Winter 2012 • Vol. XXXIV No. 1 Poetry |

Dahlia and Fadwa

When I see her come through the orchard toward my house, I begin composing answers to the words with which she'll challenge me, her vision precise and focused, as if every letter were drawn beforehand. She stops, stoops toward a flower she doesn't pick, and the word I'm left is sister, as if she were coming to visit her younger sister after a long absence, as if this stranger's house were where she'd watched my awkward gestures flower to eloquence, as if I had measured her words from a wider world each time a letter arrived, message inhabited by a vision. But I was the only messenger of my vision. My father died. There was no brother or sister but the orphan's clan of branching letters I taught myself. I moved from house to house with a dented trunk, a few books, many words, an acid fruit preceding its own flower. Am I named for a traitor or for a flower? Blood and fire have cindered and stained my vision. I cursed their politics; they praise my words. What a

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Marilyn Hacker is the author of twelve books of poems, most recently Names (W.W. Norton 2010), and of ten collections of poetry translated from French. She received the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation in 2009 for Marie Etienne’s King of a Hundred Horsemen. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a former editor of The Kenyon Review.

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Her Ring

By Marilyn Hacker

When I see her come through the orchard toward my house, I begin composing answers to the words with which she'll challenge me, her vision precise and focused, as if […]

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