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Robert Randolph


Floating Girl (Angel of War) 

"...doubling up in pain like a river
with these white flowers...."
                               -Jose Louis Hidalgo

Floating face down,
She is part of the river's script of bodies,
Its holy marginalia.

Her head floats inside her own hair
Her body drifts in moonlight, in privacy beyond rain: the hour has lost its shoreline.
You want to kiss her, but your lips are glass; your handkerchief has turned to white glass.

A prayer wheel is turning. You want to give her palomino ponies with golden hooves.
She cannot wait, floating downstream.
Already her sky fills part of the western horizon.

Her upper back breaks the surface.
You can hear the bell of silence near her skin.


She is not alone.
Some die in a silence that rises up from their feet,
Like a bitter, dumb angel. Finally, there is nothing left of them to hear.

No one knows the location of every child's body, inventing their small books to give to God.
The bones of these children are made of silence.
They saw darkness fly into the mirror.

The shadows, already folded, fold again.
Children's bodies lie in the rain, badly dressed night-birds, and only their names get up.

The bones of murdered babies drift so far, no gloves can lift them.
Nothing puts out their light. They burn like plants, in the distance, like harps.


The light is dim against your windows. There is nothing to say.
The towel lies where you left it on the stand, and you look at its texture; it seems a small
             white world.

You cover your eyes with your hands. This is enormous dignity.
You pray for children awake in shadows.

Of course you pray, because a child's love is the cleanest river that flows through the human body;
You can see all its stones. The floating girl's face drifts toward the sea.
She wraps silence around herself like a scarf.

Her body rolls over and lifts its dead hand toward the moon.
A small piece of wind blows around you and closes behind you. That was her life.
Now you stand inside the oval of her death.
Your heart enters a drifting room of tulips.


                                                   -from Floating Girl (Angel of War)