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Clade Song 4

Full as Opera
Before first light strikes the windshield
And you are stirred into waking. Before
The caw of crows.  Before the animals
Knew to move through the forest—
Dank and dark, you had a vision:
There was a girl in a conflagration
Of branch and ash.  She wore a straw hat.
Her dress said she lived in some ago.
When she was nervous, she twirled
Her whole body until collapse:
Her bones giving out, birds protesting
Above, clouds erasing stories
Set in star.  Always she lived with this
Suspense, the way time separates
Itself from place until—
There she is, suspended
Again, displaced by tense
Shifts and wandering vowels:
Her mouth seems between sounds.
And she spins, as though in spinning
She could name Night
Some round word like Found.



Nicole Tong Nicole Tong teaches college writing in Northern Virginia. Her work has been published in American Book Review, Red Rock Review, and Yalobusha Review, among others. She is the recipient of a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize in Lyric Poetry, a Pushcart Prize nomination, and fellowships from George Mason University's MFA program and the Vermont Studio Center. When the mood strikes, she spends entire days hiking or running.
“Full as Opera," a phrase from Dickinson, was inspired by Joseph Cornell’s Untitled (Bébé Marie) assemblage.