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Clade Song 7

I Ordered a Dragonfly

I ordered a dragonfly to take flight—
            I launched a cliff swallow
                        like a paper airplane

                  out over the river
            and I commanded them to find
the blue boat

that carried my father
            away one November,
                        the boat that bore

                  my mother
            with her paralyzed left side
to the mouth of the sea.

The dragonfly refused,
            the cliff swallow circled back
                        to his perch in a willow,

                  as if they both knew 
            the boat was made of ghost-wood, sealed
with ghost-wax.


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Susan Kelly-DeWitt is the author of Spider Season (Cold River Press, 2016), The Fortunate Islands (Marick Press, 2008) as well as a number of previous small press and online collections.. Her work has also appeared in many anthologies (including, she is especially happy to say, The American Entomologist Poet's Guide to the Orders of Insects), and in print and online journals at home and abroad. She is currently a member of the National Book Critics Circle and the Northern California Book Reviewers Association. For more information, please visit her website at