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What She Cannot Tell

after Chagall, “The Three Candles,” 1938

That she saw the bride dance with her lover in the sky.

That the sky drank the bride’s bouquet of lily and gardenia.


That three white candles, taller than rooftops, stood guard melting.

That angels felt hot wax on their wings, and tumbled into sound.


That sound was a man playing a violin tune he had not yet written.

That as he played he rose up past the angels tumbling.


That the harlequin stood stranded on the fence below.

That he begged his yellow clarinet for a note that could remember.


That the villagers swept dust from their doorways.

That children rolled walnuts into holes they dug.


That the blue donkey in the corner knew only his bucket.

That the bucket was filled with water and the water was sweet.


That she was just a distant child, hardly visible in the painting.

That she believed two souls could truly come together.


That there was nothing crystal about that night.

That the concussion of broken glass had not yet reached them.

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