Tradutore, Traditore

Weíre poring over her poems together
when she rises to get more cigarettes.
Itís about time: I lean back and stretch,
the blood reuniting with the body,
then slowly turn back to the page.
Thereís an e out of place, now fixed,
a lost adverb I must have missed earlier.
I yawn, decide not to mention it: at times
it feels as though sheís trying on this language
for the first time, wearing it shyly like she would
a new lover, and I donít want to discourage her,
especially not from writing poems
like the one lurking on the page before me:
lanes of blood run down its alleys;
glitter and grease limn its doorsteps.
It feels like the dream of an animal
the evening before its next huntó
if Iím not careful Iíll slip, fall, not wake up.
Suddenly sheís back. Asks me
what these doodles are Iíve been making,
takes the pen and adds her own, and now
the page is covered in a dark and ancient poetry.
Are we finished for the night? she asks,
her voice rising to the ceiling like lampblack,
a word Iíve always loved but never needed.

Benjamin Morris is a native of Mississippi but currently lives in Cambridge, England, where he is a graduate student in archaeology.

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