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The Forum Prize

Libby Bernardin

 

And When the Forest of Your Bearable Life Appears

                                                                                 And when the forest of your bearable life appears
                                                                                                                                                    —Katie Ford

Rising and unfolding, like a great beast
    or mangrove, no, a bamboo grove:

thick canes you’ll need a machete
to navigate—imagine the strength you’ll need
to hack a path through mature growth, cutting
away as if each cane’s node could release
untold stories—

    Look up from your scything to wipe your brow—
    a boat idles among bald cypress,
    stacked with charts mapping the waterway,

        sun lighting an open seat—
        as if all you had to do was step aboard.