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Of Cleansing and Cartography

by Alice Lander

I search the rubble of this

bombed-out body,

cull clues from marks on

charcoaled walls and

choke on memory dust,

Pride purple and mottled

like a bruise.


Neck and above the neck, bibliotec.

Paperbacks with back flaps scattered, 

footprints fade in the shape of a waltz,

in the shape of pursuit, a dance

in four acts:


Act I

20th century tub, limbs gone liquid

in tile-reflected I notice

anew the smile of my stomach.


Act II

Footsteps approach like heartbeats

and recede like heartbeats,

your fingers bind my arm so tight

I think I am you.



Silt hair slips soft like water,

you cleave like a fist.

The room tips, now I 


I am thicker than water,

my limbs are liquid.


Act IV

On sun-moon carpet, splayed

cowered and curled, I’ve the

limbs of a dog,

my scent like a dog,

and I am a loyal companion.


I watch you recede through

lash slats, a wave. 


I fade

from the animal of my body.


I forget myself,

I require maps.


I recede,

a wave.


Ribs like pillars after the blitz, in

this cathedral of a room

and still my mother on the sofa

balancing tea on one arm,

its fate uncertain as her moods.


And still floured hands roll dough

In the hearth of my navel, singing 

sweets, sweets for the mothers 

of sons, 

but I have none.


I have swallowed the sun

and my belly burns red, hot

with the heat of its red hot head.


I have swallowed the sun,

light pours from my lips.

In these darkening rooms,


I begin to lay bricks.

About the Author

Alice Lander lives in Jersey City, New Jersey with her husband, cat and growing plant collection. Her work is forthcoming in Eunoia Review.

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