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Denaturalization

By Marina Brown

The State speaks

 

Our rocket launchers carry girls’

names, diminutives. They crouch 

 

across the borderland, nestled

in groves of fir and birch and willow.

 

Our fields are sown with marrow.

We name our babies Faith, Love,

 

Light, and Resurrection. Our men like

gripping concepts in their hands.

 

On reaching orbit, we file down

Luna’s cold edges. Nearly

 

the season now for culling

the limbs of cherry orchards,

 

for opening canopies and sparing

idle offshoots.

 

We snatch Tereshkova from the Volga,

thrust her up inside a capsule egg.

 

I see the horizon, she whispers back.

Sky-blue. a dark strip.

 

Seagull, we call her. The only woman

to have gone so far

 

alone. She tumbles down

in sleeves like stork’s wings

 

to be fed and clothed by the people

of a fogbound village.

 

They turn her back from

silver gleam to earth. Cover her

 

in wreaths of layered flowers,

spears of wheat in gentle folds.

 

But our artists keep indoors,

their blue hands glossing

 

winter battles. They peer up

at us with the rest of the body

 

politic. Mothers flock,

clutching scraps of metal,

 

to argue over imports –

dried fruit, thin books, denim –

 

as in your mirror steep

the farmer’s and the merchant’s

 

hooded eyes. Small vessels

yaw under anvil clouds

 

as we contort to pick up

English, our form become nuclear

 

DNA

scheming with germ.

 

Abroad, will you read how – secretly –

we still float candles

 

down tributaries for their ancient omen,

igniting trees along the water’s edge

 

for fear of sirens.

For fear of vanishment.

 

When the iris buds break open,

we bullet through the world’s array.

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