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(Face time with Archibald MacLeish)

The first time (he said) was before she died.

I collected the plaque with remarks I thought

funny. We trooped next door to a

fancy-pants grill, and wiped our plates clean.

I recall how she gazed at me drily

past pink arctic char, her unasked question

at rest.

Then it got faster (he grunted) –

awards, degrees, girls taking notes.

Professional sheen. Now (he flung

an arm), all that stuff on the wall (and turned):

don’t ask what matters till you get to the

place where

language turns tigers: a steel spring coiling,

toothed and dangerous. Danger

makes new.

Beltway Poetry Quarterly, January 2017

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