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Cassandra Labairon: Two Poems

Lilith Visits a Mystic | The Direction of Breath

Lilith Visits a Mystic

There, in a cave where stalactites
and stalagmites grow, I find him

slender and composed. He hums.
He lifts a cup of lemon tea to his

quarter smile, tastes, says: hear
my testimony. This saved my life.

He palms a pebble, drops it into
liquid. Ripples spread through

our air, into cave walls. Outside
a landslide, beyond that a flood,

oceans lean in on beaches begging
for one more chance. Listen. Cave

dweller. The sun can blister. Storms
in the extreme north and south cause

uttered words to separate, drift —
entities calling to each other in white

air. Salvation in hum, citrus and silence?
Yes. But also in the veins of a womanís

legs as she carries water to children
who thirst for TV and sloganed

T-shirts, or the wilted bloom standing
on its head in a floristís trash bin.

Yes. Also in an antagonist eyes
when the audience escapes for home.

The Direction of Breath

When will I abandon avenues,
boulevards and back alleys?

When will a kind road circle
back to a prairie schoolhouse,

the scent of old wood and field
mice? And why do we dream

of infancy, drinking from rivers
before we knew them as poison?

The compass reads dull in dim
light, and I hear an old song:

Oh home on the range, where
the deer and the antelope play.

I want to go north and find
a lover. I want to move south

where words keep their weight
in autumn. But my sister lives

in the east, and west is where
soil is red and memory older

than birth. The needle needs
only one magnetic region.

Poet's Biography:
  Cassandra Labairon is the winner of the 2003-04 McKnight Individual Artist Grant and the author of Growing Season, a poetry chapbook published by Spoon River Poetry Press. Her poems have appeared in Texas Poetry Review, Mankato Poetry Review, Bulkhead and elsewhere. She teaches in the English Department at Minnesota State University and at South Central Technical College.

© 1999 - 2003, by the poets featured herein.