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Excerpt

POEM
I heard of a man
who says words so beautifully
that if he only speaks their name
women give themselves to him.

If I am dumb beside your body
while silence blossoms like tumours on our lips
it is because I hear a man climb stairs
and clear his throat outside our door.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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The Essential Elizabeth Brewster
Excerpt

Blueflag

So that I would not pick the blueflag
in the midst of the pond
(and get my clothes wet)
my mother told me that it was poison.

I watched this beautiful, frightening flower
growing up from the water
from its green reeds,
washed blue, sunveined,
and wanted it more
than all the flowers I was allowed to pick,
wild roses, pink and smooth as soap,
or the milk-thin daisies
with butterblob centres.

I noticed that the midges
that covered the surface of the water
were not poisoned by the blueflag,
but I thought they must have
a different kind of life from mine.

Even now, if I pick one,
fear comes over me, a trembling.
I half expect to be struck dead
by the flower's magic

a potency seeping
from its dangerous blue skin
its veined centre.

On Reading Another Poet

I think we are being given the same messages
that oracles are speaking in our dreams
warning admonition code
syllables of unknown meaning.

We are not in competition.
If I say the same thing
it is not because I copy
but because the voice says so.

Maybe there will be hundreds of us
like choric echoes.
It will not matter
that the words repeat themselves

so long as what is said
rises like the tide in all our separate waves
and beats upon and shapes the dreaming shore.

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