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Is it true you have a relative allergic to the pepper in his mother’s house and that’s why he won’t visit her?

Yes, but it is not the same relative who tells me all water is old. Nor is it the relative who tells me every curve needs its own line. Some of the best layers in poetry are revealed by listening quietly to these anonymous relatives, but as sometimes happens in my poems, I try not to intrude upon their privacy when I write.

traces her finger along the grout, thinking
she could change her name
to something like Yori Shinobu. Maybe then
she’d find ancient grace, seventh century
trust, the blessing in every fifth wind

to write poetry about one time
when, yes, he admitted to wandering.
But no, he never strayed. The Season
of Tall Grass would speak of sheep
in high plain meadows, three octaves