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Split Tractate
Brenda Hillman

But I feared that her soul didn't
miss me. Didn't miss spring. That she was pre-
occupied, like a tourist, maybe not
moving around in the mind
of god but in the onyx
market, which was the exact same thing—

Help, mockingbird! don't say no!
Maybe she has forgotten us,
she has given us this priceless gift,
she has let us go.

I looked for her in anger,
behind sunsets,
along the iron tracks of the personal;
I looked for her in places of agony
and she was quite close by.

They said I had to let go of her.
She said so too. Let go she said from the
The screen between me and her.

But still I held on; holding on
is my specialty. I held on to her image,
to the moment of death, to the problem
with pronouns; maybe I'd learn.

Spring could let go couldn't it.
Vireos hung upside down from the cottonwood.
The old calm towhee at the feeder—it did not tarry.
Beautiful, average mornings: the scattered actual: grief
changed them only slightly.
Mornings waiting for the triple A,
of neighbors standing by their cars and chatting,

one pink kleenex
in the street—or is it a camellia—

then a man climbs up the shining ladder to a phone pole,
takes the spool of insulated wire and threads it—
To the heaven of messy souls
behind the bright new consciousness
or to the old Baptist heaven with its silverware—

so many heavens! Which was she in.
I wished she'd speak more clearly when I asked her
who was noticing her now.
What was ``this'' to her.

And the mockingbird stayed all morning with its row
of checkmarks and the verse that sounded like
police! police!
Maybe that bird was her—
so versatile; it did not cling—

Let go said the
Let go said everything.

Sweet afternoons of exhaustion. Trips to the library
with the other moms. Taking the books
to the chrome mouth of the book deposit
and hesitating
before letting the slender paperback slide down
on its very own bardo journey;
Maybe I should have warned it
not to attach itself to its travels,

not to identify with the suffering.
that is the main thing.

What is this so-called
death anyway. Fat chickadees hop up
the ``dead'' fennel. A little
cowlick sprouts from the ``dead'' place
in the pine. Petals die
and in a day, what looks like mascara brushes
fall from the birthday tulips.

Is the ``falling'' or are the tulips it.
What is this so-called
death what is it.

Let go said the so-called
Let go said everything.

Even the poem said it.
Said it would come in its own good time
as I leaned forward to see death's face
though there was always this gap
between my hand and the page,

I had only to trace the pen
over the words;
the poem was already written—

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