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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 10, Number 2, June 2016
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Seánan Forbes
New York, USA/London, England


Hunting Season

She has always tried to be invisible. It started in childhood. Don’t make Daddy angry. Be careful; Mumsie’s in a mood. You know your brother’s temper—Why do you bother him? Hush, now; Gran’s not feeling well. Be mindful; your granddad’s had too much to drink. And she truly didn’t want to attract Uncle Eddie’s attention. That was disgusting.

hunting season
an abused child
erasing herself
from family photos—
a gift to the past

Older now, she finds herself drawn to the familiar. Chooses lovers who neglect her, friends who demean, mentors who diminish. Sometimes, she feels as if the world were conspiring to bring her down. Other times, she believes that she sows mines in her own fields. Always, she knows that she deserves the ill.

thick clouds
of fleeing birds
Cassandra’s warnings
always unheeded
she tips her cheek to his fist

She studies maps, charts, stars, tides, navigation. Develops an obsession with finding the quickest routes. Another with the least likely. Unfolds old books and age-stiffened plats in shops and libraries, drifts waking dreams down roads, into alleys, through neighborhoods long buried, longer changed. Presses the pages of atlases against her skin, imagines escapes and passages translating themselves onto her skin, migrating within her, showing her different destinations, spinning the compass of her days.

as if her life
could be traced
in song lines—
the blue-veined map
within her skin

five years
she’s been lost
in her husband’s life—
the tilt of an old compass
in her still-young hand

She doesn’t blame him. If she is to change directions, then she must escape herself. At rest stops, she dips into local maps: tourist spots, historical sites, parklands, lakes, routes that are old, new, open, barred, vanished into time or under asphalt . . . Her notes, her thoughts, her interests, her wayward inward ways, she shelters deep within her, in caverns she has yet to own, much less explore. She steals time from errands. Spends it trailing her fingers along lanes and avenues. Freeways. Free. She seeks a sign with that word. Wonders whether she could read it, if it were there.

a morning wasted
searching for its key:
open door
the caged bird
clings to its perch

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end

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