Ruth Baumann

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GRACE

In my original form, I carry no light. I grew out of thick water. At nineteen, I woke up with a stained glass head & no eyes. Let me see, I demanded. So I saw.

It’d be true to say I’ve not yet died. I hold the past syntax & the present syntax tight as a heart. I’m not the type of person who can let a sentence into my body whole. All that I know can be given to oxygen. All that I know is humans are supposed to stay small.

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BURIAL AT SEA

The lighthouse in my head went missing the summer of 2003. Look¸ my heart said, I am actually a throat. I don’t care about revenge. When they told me to forgive anyone who’s ever wronged me, I did. But the body can curl inside itself. A hand can become other hands.  The baby sparrows tumble out of my heart. Their necks were broken oceans ago.

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THE MIND IS ONLY ITS OWN PROPERTY IN SLEEP

The difference between emotional & physical vulnerability is explained through panic buttons. That is to say it cannot be explained but here is a panic button. Please only press it when necessary. Please remember society has rules. There will come a night when no one is in love with you. Be calm: this is what you wanted.

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GIFT

The man’s face shapeshifts in my dream: ex #1, ex #2, ex #3. Eventually, dream-me tires & walks away. This is a replica of my imagined perfect universe: I get everything I want & miserable. Raise your hand if you’ve made love in a park & it didn’t change you. Raise your hand if you’ve crossed state lines, if you’ve gotten to the I did that & then, having done that, been forced to continue to exist. You can laugh at me, but for years I didn’t know I was growing fear like a crop. One night, I ran a rolling pin over my body. Flat, I discovered the seedlings had sprouted across 85%. I could not stop raining. This is when I was forced to accept that no summer afternoon can happen twice, a lie the mind’s peculiar sentry had been licking into my ears since before summer had a name.

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