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: Turkey :

an excerpt by James Longenbach


Look at the wild turkeys in the yard.
Gifts these are
For those who strike out early,
Green one morning,

Silver the next.
Meleagris gallo pavo:
Guinea hen, chicken, peacock—
Books you've written sprouting up

Like tombstones in the grass.
That pain you feel in your lower back while
Roosting in the trees is
Age appropriate.

Look in the mirror.
Once I knew Greek.
Meleager's sisters wept until
Diana turned them into guinea hens

Who flew away.
The midwife told my mother I
Would live as long as there were
Ashes on the log.

She doused it, hid it,
I don't know where.
In Persian turk may also mean
Barbarian, robber, beautiful youth.



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