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For Leslie at Two Weeks by Edith A. Jenkins

January 31, 1988

From "Divisions on a Ground" (The Lapis Press, 2058 Broadway, Santa Monica 90404: $18; 50 pp.). Edith Jenkins, a fourth-generation San Franciscan, has four children and six grandchildren and "has been active in progressive causes throughout her life." She has published poetry before in magazines. This is her first book. Your fingers are pink succulents. When your mother opens them they curl around her long, pale finger. Your nails are luminous, ancestral.

You are a blueprint, a ship's manifest, a catalogue, the dictionary of a foreign language.

The curve of your outer nostril is the letter C, a rubric. The transparency of your forehead, its mottling, its small bony height, the Japanese brush-strokes of your eyebrows. I fish in the stream of your mystery.

On the mantel, a picture of me at seven. Five cylinder-curls below a buzzing of hair. How my mother brushed each one over her finger turning it horizontal till she smoothed it shiny.

My daughter lies on the low bed. Her lips taste the dark strands of your hair. She is the first mother, her arm an ark, her milk a white affluence.

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