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It is as if the old woman in the square

raised her hand to you, and I,

the devoted master, packed you off

to Samarkand, thinking you would be safe

from her influence. There is no Samarkand

in these parts, nor dark old women

known by other names. What you heard

was your own voice, or maybe your mother’s,

calling you back. As life left you,

did you find yourself in the trolley

to Niagara Falls, in your braided uniform,

or had you shrunk to a child

playing outside your father’s surgery?

I am left with shards of memory,

film forgotten in a camera,

a ten-year-old photo of you,

lit by June sun, on my mother’s porch.

Could you have known, in the instant

I flicked the shutter, that you were gazing

beyond your life, beyond Samarkand,

that the look directed into the hooded lens

I would not see again till you were gone?


Gay Baines lives in East Aurora, New York. Her poetry has appeared in RE:AL, Slipstream, Poet Lore, Atlanta Review and other journals. She is co-founder and poetry editor of July Literary Press. In 2002 she published her first novel, Dear M.K., and in 2010, a poetry collection, Don’t Let Go.

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