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Three Poems
After the Pella Curse Tablet

The boy born under the sign of the swan
has walked due north along a line of spoonwood.

He’s left behind this queen-sized bed,
these silk pajamas, orchid, bowl of quince,

twisted wet linens in sun or this magnolia
tree after last night’s storm

blown apart, part by part—
Twig, petal, trunk, branch, leaf—

And I the voice mumbles magnolia 
into no that air no

Come back to me sweet white one
if I still flute song if it’s not gone

how can I say anything else?
                                      Broken kylix,

bowl with no horizontals,
husk: lean back. What’s two sweet
hands emptying from its clay lip.

And I am the painter chosen 
to adorn the bottom of the cup:

my work invisible so long as
the cup is full.


                                                                 In the Drents Museum

That rope a tripwire just above
the mute deserted faces the grass
and written out on sheets of onionskin
light—tattooed letters twice
the paper’s weight—glowing through
this story a forgotten evening, the relicts
reduced to a diet of willow leaves,
their particular green littering 
one creature’s refugium through a new storm
bleeding ice into the air.
That rope just above the grass—
The tripwire—I know because I fell—


Ephesia Grammata

Why is the field empty today? Just yesterday

a school of boys swam in the chill, flushed legs toying 

across this queer sea-green grass, their scent’s heat like a terrier

nosing for a red flick of salt, furred face and fling-long in air

loping as a slinky set loose down into a swale, spiral, feral

damp green towel cold-soiled with melt and even quicker

caught and gone hard in its mouth, why is the field empty of boy!

A particular one, his name my mouth opened against.

Julian Baird Gewirtz is a doctoral student in history at Oxford University, where he is a Rhodes Scholar. His poems have been published by the New Republic, Boston Review, and Yale Review.