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Two Poems by Rebecca Weiner Tompkins


The red birthstone fell
out of my ring, leaving
its crowned prongs empty,
a perfect chip chiseled
from my heart’s bones.

I dreamed being stopped by
the long dark walkway
with bricked wall leading
to the locked iron gate enclosing
the fenced stairwell topped
by the steel door
beside sealed, heavy
draped windows, all
now forbidden.

The sweet, sharp birdsong
outside the room you loved
comes at me—
as it’s surely been said before—
a barbed fist to the chest,
hooks and lodges in that space,
the lost ruby left.


photograph by Dennis Gordon


A man meets three
agents of death: lightning
nearly misses the tree; a
pale scorpion sits silent
at the door of his sleep; and
a truck swerves seconds
before it’s head-on.
He begins to think
either God is calling him back
to that desert and he needs
to offer himself up, or it could
just be something else, even
nothing. Can one discern
what direction the signs are
pointing if one hates the
idea, the very word, plus
staring at the sun too long
has clouded one’s vision?
The man talks it out
endlessly, to the wrong
listeners, shouts it in the
wrong rooms. Does God
want him whole or would he
rather make and take him
broken? What has already
been told: the lost get found
and darkness turns light and
sins can be turned around,
seems old; there’s nothing
left to tell or teach. Now
this is where we might
leave him, find another
story, ours, which starts up
almost alike, only the names
or dates have been changed.
God, of course,
remains the same.

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