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In Defense of the Semicolon

No semicolons. Semicolons indicate relationships that only idiots need

defined by punctuation. Richard Hugo

But it’s a reassuring logic that rivers freeze

because your hemisphere has rolled away from the sun,

that cities rest because there must be time for resting.

I could never deny it, or disown my desire

for the certainty of home, for mills and reservoirs

I always come back to. I’m thinking of a girl

pinning butterflies through her bangs, the first woman

I ever asked to marry me. She was slight and strange;

her brother lived in England, and was dying there.

Years after our split, she and I met in an open-air restaurant

crowded with chatter and cigarettes. I was still very young,

still afraid of being abandoned at the terminal.

She no longer ate; she had lost teeth and some hair,

she said. There were pale islands of skin

where the butterflies had perched. The waiter came around

to refill our coffee, a phone was ringing, and fifty feet away

streetcars jostled like dusk nudging against darkness;

even between those two there are gangways:

movable bridges ship-to-shore, small therefores.

from Charms Against LightningFind it in the library

Copyright © 2012 James Arthur
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Published in James Arthur Poems

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