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Spell to Practice Patience

What burns will burn, what’s left

is brick and the soot marring the brick—

what’s left is the rebuilding.

 

Become small as the seed, which waits

without speaking. Settle as the cicada does,

humming faintly in its dark bed of earth.

 

Count the pearls in the heirloom necklace,

each a grain of sand gilded by decades,

made in the murks under an ocean’s weight.

 

Practice moving your fingers through the air

so gently, you can hold a feather

without it touching your hand.

 

Stare at ice so long, it becomes the same

as water. Stare at water so long, it is gone.

Stare at the mark made after.

 

Parse apart the slung syllables of every book

until your tongue is nimble iron, then

teach your tongue the strength in silence.

 

Bridle your desire, halter and harness until

it stands at attention, taut as the rope

that leads to the bell that waits to be struck.

 

When you ring, ring loud, exactly when you need to,

bright note pitched as the phoenix hatches

and you burn and burn and burn and burn.
 
 
 

Ann V. DeVilbiss has had work in BOAAT, Crab Orchard Review, The Maine Review, Pangyrus, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2017 Betty Gabehart Prize in poetry and an Emerging Artist Award from the Kentucky Arts Council. She lives and works in Louisville, Kentucky.