Braided Rug


The all America rag rug
I hide my feet in
twists as the Hudson
has learned to twist
outdoing its clouds
of dust. It opens out –
as the Missouri offers
in flood and mire
its aims,
or the Potomac pulls
at its raggedy banks.

It braids blue-grey
with river-black, silver
for the rare winter stillness
as if left out all night
by the mountains.
The repeated stopped waters
creak with my weight.

The floorboards of our kitchen
are polished to a nicety.
I am nimble on these knots.
I speak all the reiverland tongues
of my mother tongue.
My accent fathers me.
My voice is too loud –
even the heron, the herring gull

In the middle of London
I am elsewhere. To the long gone,
to the dead in me
I cry breathe now, breathe.
I know my bailwick
I stand on my rug.

from Breathe Now, Breathe (Enitharmon, 1995) © Jane Duran 1995, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

Jane Duran in the Poetry Store

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