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Janet Smith


Listen to Janet Smith read this poem:

I Could Say It

Because of the juniper, its twisted
body, the purpling of berries
on branches, the warmed bark, like the fur
of a bear asleep in the sun,
the birdhouse on its great limb,
I bought the cabin.

I didn’t know who I was.
I stayed inside the painted walls,
waiting for a signal to go outside. Light
swung through the juniper; a pair
of chickadees left the birdhouse's
small black mouth.

The chickadees called
in their same three notes. I understood
how I could say a prayer. I could say it
to anything: a star singled out,
the air filling with snow,
a cloud shaped like a question mark.

One prayer, over and over,
a charm against staying under a roof,
against five rooms of furniture,
the changeless noon of lamps.
I knew I had to buy back my body.
There are no signals, only hours.



Janet Smith is on faculty in the English department at Lake Tahoe Community College. Her first book of poetry, All of a Sudden, is forthcoming from Cherry Grove.
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