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Cursive, a Prose Poem by Laurie Klein

Photo by Debby Hudson

Hello life, so quietly near / slack-jawed / mercurial. In the shallows a fish swivels, a fleeting lowercase “j” as in jewel, with one crystal bauble of breath for the dot. O underwater cursive, you materialize like the past, in serial glints: fin / then scale / gill / tail. Someone must praise each delicate whirl of the inner clockwork. Harder to parse that wily old flounder, Time, whose funhouse eye drifts down the body, the slow glutinous slide a sign of maturing. Onshore, a woman can sidearm a flat stone, sculpt the swelter of August air with her pain. As if spring-wound the fish rolls . . . then bolts. Almost opalescent, the supple vacancy hovers—as when, trespassing every clock in her house, sorrow erases the hour hands, their inching hope. Where does love go when it dies? A stranger’s story can move like a riptide between the listener’s ears. Marauders killed a man’s dog / his wife / his sons. Child, he seems to say, his voice floating somewhere inside her head as if he were her own dear father, when we are drowning, how slowly the body learns sadness can swim.

—Appeared in Terrain


Laurie Klein is the author of Where the Sky Opens and Bodies of Water, Bodies of Flesh. Her work has appeared in Plough, The Christian Century, First Things, Presence, Relief, Commonweal, Ekstasis, Dappled Things, The Windhover, Saint Katherine Review, and elsewhere. She lives in the Pacific Northwest.


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