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Extra resources for A Protocol for Touch (Vassar Miller Prize in Poetry, 7)

Sample text

Having/not having babies? What is the difference now between night and day? Page 40 The Bride Her sisters bathe her. Fold handfuls of lather Into her pungent oily hair, And after, pour buckets and buckets Of steaming spring water Carried from its source at the mountain's base Up the long steep trek Slung over the broad shoulders Balancing poles pressed into the back Of the ruddy necksof maids, High-strung as fillies, handsome as mares. Today the maids have rest. The sisters done, the mothers come To anoint the bride with spicery and myrrh, While in another place, the philosophers Erect out of the murk and muddle A path of clear ideas Leading to the clearing in the forest Where the nuptials will occur.

Page 39 Cradle Song: A Found Poem An "intelligence test" used to establish "mental and hereditary illness" in Germany from 1933. Some 320,000350,000 people were sterilised in accordance with these dubious criteria. The Racial State What is your name? What are you? Where is this place? Who brought you here? Who are the people around you? Where does the sun rise? What does it cost to send a letter? Why do children go to school? What does it mean to boil water? Why does one build houses higher in towns than in the countryside?

Other things remain palpable: the night cries of the girl who had seizures, the sound of you rubbing her arm, and the ill-will I wished the white girls Page 56 each morning, as I, in day-old braids, stood off to one side and watched you comb their hair.  We were the same age and even shared birthdays, not to mention big-boned bodies and less-than-perfect eyes. Stuck, for years, as reluctant shower buddies because of the sameness of our race, we made the best of it and chose for our bosom friends two petite white girls, who doubled as daughters and slaves.

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