In her own words...



Six o'clock and the sky still there.
A little life at bay on the stairway,
               a lesson in white with some red
               added for conduct disorderly —

               according to matrons and patrons.

No schoolbook says a piece of ice
can scrape and slit bloodlessly
               through secondhand words we wear
               regardless of tongue and tie.

               Then how to speak languages fluently?

A tilt of the head to separate
the lung from all the colored marbles
               in the mouth will cover your tracks,
               blow dust in the courtyard.


About this work

“Orphanotrophium” was first published in The New Republic, November 5, 2001, p. 38.  It is also included in Dorothea Tanning's book, A Table of Content: Poems, New York: Graywolf Press, 2004, p. 43, and may not be reprinted without the publisher's permission.