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Gladiolus by Harriet Levin 

Oh, what is he asking me to do--
my nails will chip, blacken, like someone

unformed, focused on anger, with clenched
fingers and a hot face, the anger

suddenly exposed, attached to the head
of each bulb, attached to his gift of bulbs,

him not understanding how much work there
is, and me bent on refusal, there

all the time, a fault line, a rumbling
from the ground up--tilt the doubtful balance,

disturb what exists between us, collapse
my deep, my demanding resistance?



Per Contra Spring 2007