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            Michael H. Levin: Poems and Prose  

PHANTOM LIMBS


(A family tree)



At dusk they rise from misty ground --

dim shapes that drift ethereally,

attached, yet not: the severed limbs


of cancelled trees cut off at joints

or stumps sawn down, who rise at dusk

from disembodied ground.


Attached yet not, one trims precisely reeds

for his bassoon, starched concert collar

sepia-brown: fingers round stops


that make no sound. One trundles his way

through freezing slop, trusting in luck

(though crowned with sleet) to mute surrounding


enmity. Three sisters straight

as saplings crash cadenzas towards

three different fates, while refugees --


attached, though not -- form

silent ranks of drowned-out pleas.

Behind, grey hosts of those unknown


trudge by and peer elliptically.

At dusk they rise from ancient ground,

by time dispatched: ancestral eyes


which still can see; vestigial branches

that still veer and sway. Attached yet not --

felt absence linked familiarly,

these phantom limbs accompanying me.

First published in 2016 Anna D. Rosenberg Award Collection (Poetica, Sept. 2017)