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A Poem: Prison Sangha 

The paring knife slips under the skin.

Eases under black-purple wrinkles, loosens

the dry casing. Slices into lush musculature.

Cuts through miniscule juice-bearing

veins.

The knife runs around the scalp, removing the final

brittle tuft of hair, and then descends

to the belly. Amputates the

shriveled umbilical, the last lick of the mother

tongue.

In beets up to our elbows, we are talking

about death row. I say, Kogen once told me

that, when convicted for murder, he spent

eight months in solitude counting the

breath.

The irony is not lost on me: I too am here

to learn about impermanence.

Before the meal, I bow at the altar. My clasped hands,

stained with juice, rise like a low red

moon.

Speaking of...

  • A poem by Nina Pick.

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