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INVITING YOU BACK, By Joan Campbell

July 11, 1993

The breath of tea warm in a cupped hand,

I can look back on it now. The dark tree shapes

inhabit the sunset. I guess I'm saying goodbye

to the tropics. But just for the moment

let us say I have invited you back. Sit down,

sit down. The book keeps falling

open to the missing page while you sleep.

Earth to moon then steadfastly more. To watch

your breath rise in the light I've put you in

would only be a form of self-indulgence.

Do dreams rise to reinvent the past? I have

given birth to a flower that sings in your absence,

while winter brings another and another

snow until the low light leaves.

This night, without you, is long

and like a lost moon, its gown of light

strewn across the floor, a light I cannot

wear a moment more. If I rise to pull the shade,

the moon takes back its dress. Either way I lose.

I am in the city reading again, how foxes

are killed for their fur. How they shock them

from the inside until the skin bears

no resemblance to their death. Also,

Derek Walcott. How he feels

"vague as the moon in daylight"

after someone astonishing has left him.

People keep telling me how good I look.

Sit down. Let me tell you.

1993. Joan Campbell lives and writes in Morro Bay, Calif. She has published her poems and essays in several magazines and journals. Reprinted by permission.

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