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A.R. Ammons

She was already lean when
a stroke or two slapped
her face like drawn
claw prints: akilter, she
ate less and

sat too much on the edge
of beds looking a width too
wide out of windows:
she lessened: getting
out for a good day, she sat

on the bench still and
thin as a porch post:
the children are all
off, she would think, but a
moment later,

startle, where are the children,
as if school had let
out: her husband watched
her till loosened away himself
for care: then,

seeming to know but never
quite sure, she was put in
a slightly less hopeful
setting: she watched her
husband tremble in to call

and shoot up high head-bent
eyes: her mind
flashed clear through, she was
sure of it, she had seen
that one before: her husband

longed to say goodbye or else
hello, but the room stiffened
as if two lovers had just caught
on sight, every move rigid
misfire in that perilous fire.

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