Citizen to Citizen

Laurie Saurborn Young

Palaces are the places I have not seen in years —


My head against yours, our sleeping hours overlap.


Daily the dying oaks blend into brown brick.


Daily the monk parakeets scavenge black seed.


When quarrelling one no longer reasons well


Or so she reasons, the message altered by the ending.


When I wake and worry into the night, the wave


Gathering more water, I know my 19th-century


Self is still catching up. Still tanning


On the porch with you, pouring over


Pictures of pretty girls while hoping our faces


Might freeze into theirs.


When her husband died, my grandmother threw


History away. This is a palace.


Like swimming with you in the outdoor pool


Where I dive for a heart of oiled feathers.


Only watching the cat lick his belly in the sun


Will make the wave put down its water.


Citizen, how do you lose a country?


How do you get it back?


Is it a bouquet of rough-edged tulips, opening for days.


Is it a palace, the one-line note from my father.

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