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Want of UnderstandingJohn Burnside
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Vol. 40 No. 22 · 22 November 2018
Poem

Want of Understanding

John Burnside

181 words

NRS 125.330: Want of understanding. When either of the parties to a marriage for want of understanding shall be incapable of assenting thereto, the marriage shall be void from the time its nullity shall be declared by a court of competent authority.

Conditions for the Dissolution of Marriage under the Nevada State Legislature

When it no longer smells like an orchard
standing all around me in the dark,

the sense of a known Beloved that comes
of garden work, the honey of a voice

receding in my throat, my flesh
less dream than sleep, an unrequited

gap amidst
the lanternlight that runs from tree to tree –

when nothing on the air
gives answer to that hollow in the bone

from years ago, the wound
I never tell, no scar to show

by daylight, nothing
Ancient in my house, or Perilous,

when flocks of geese rise,
month-long, from the fields

and arc towards the north,
I drown my vows

and start again,
one heartbeat at a time,

till swallows map the lanes
from spire to spire

with mint and ozone,
summering the dawn.

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