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james mcgonigal
Poet  •  Critic

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     One Song in Winter

She wraps cloth strips about her hand
the pencil shakes
falls on the box
a watchdog barks out ‘Bitter root’
as nightfall shuts its iron locks.

Torn paper like a rag
reveals its hunger and its thirst
handwriting spiky as barbed wire
could cut the eye that reads it first.

Sharp as a star the first word shines
bald as the moon the last
this empty sack wrapped round her back
could fill with tears as fast.

Our father’s strength huge arms of clouds
flexing above a field of maze
with open hands gates eyelids hearts
creation gave its praise

and finds at last for some who lie
on prison straw alone
one soul to watch and one to rest
marrow asleep in aching bone.

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