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Fuck / Conferences

— Inua Ellams

after Emily Johnson

Have I told you of the oak / that grew where we are now / that you can find in aerial shots of the city / going back sixty years / before it was slashed down for this conference centre / which would fit within it / so wide was its trunk / I was thinking how flimsy my limbs would seem held against its slimmest branch / I looked up to check its wondrous penumbra of leaves and saw instead the cast iron beams of the ceiling / and not the sky I had seen earlier this morning / outside / when I noticed again how impossible it is to fully grasp / such clear and present borderlessness / in which a sparrow hawk swooped / and above it flew an airplane / towards the hawk / and though I knew the plane was thousands of feet further up / I stood there / just in case / just in case the hawk needed me to catch / my fingers laced into a fleshy ready nest / my breath trapped / my chest clenched / my shuddering shuddering heart / and I was that sky / our bird / this tree / these leaves / the building / and you / and me


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