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Gina Franco

Gina Franco is the author of The Accidental (University of Arkansas Press 2019), winner of the CantoMundo Poetry Prize, and The Keepsake Storm (University of Arizona Press, 2004). She is a professor of English at Knox College and divides her time between Galesburg, Illinois, and Del Rio, Texas.

By This Poet

3

The Idol and the Icon

no telling what lies on the other side:
                                                                     the X and its door:
                the wayfarer arrives at the throne
                                                                             at the end of the world
to find that the throne is a cardboard sign
                                                                             scrawled in black marker:
              (I thirst):
                               no one, nowhere: no “look no further”:
 
though the boy
                             waves his bottle over his head, walks the highway
                shirtless on the shoulder, the last
                                               of his water beading against clear
empty plastic, and visible
                                               from the car as we drove by. In the worst
                heat of the day.
       	                                    In the desert not far from the border.
 
So, the X
                   and its exits, the many passages since. So to have gone further
                out of the way—to have not been so sensible—
     	                                                                                            so that the walker,
watched sometimes, secretly, from the givenness, the order,
               of conditions that now still make their
    	                                                                             appearances known
                                                                    	    	
—and utmost—wouldn’t be alone: here is water
                                                        	                     left on the roadside
               with the carrion,
and the cars that cross leftward, inex
 	                                                           -tricable from the broken line:

The Artificial Infinite

like a room with an open window, we
               were haunted:
                                         neither exit nor entrance,
fully: so the ghosts crossed our thresholds:
               they have all gone out, they have all gone in:
the little houses leaning into the field of grass, the water
               tower levitating into the sky, the roadside drill
that digs in the grit:
                                     shock of the human
               machine
continuously beating but irregularly: so absence
               fills with expectation, overfills: and the thing is
king:

The Same and the Other

in each hand a disparate dream: in all dreams
                                                                           another far
            too quiet: delirium
                                     of the mask and God behind it: paradise
had no winter like
                          this: this
            is the one where the infant sleeps in the dirt
                                                                                the sleep
of a dreamless mind so far from home
                                                           he no longer resembles anyone:
            his mother, thrown
                                        down, hunted, sick 
with fear, sleeps next to him among the filth of animals: his father
              watches (the imperative
                                                       that love
—not solace—
                      demands), for there is no room for another
              sleeper: the desert will keep
                                                         bringing its mirage,
no doubt:
             the child will walk in his shimmering garden, says
   
the wilderness, if you just get across:
                                                          motes in the light rise and rest:
             sole face left (remember you are dust)
                                                                       of our first lost image: