"Working With the Lepers" by Jeffrey Levine

In my yard, you are not,

nor in my crab apple tree,

which I also claim, and so too the raccoons

nesting in the black oak across from where

last winter, the old picket fence was crushed

by that enormous stag who stood off-center

for as long as he liked,

pawing the snow

for as long as he liked,

until the snow turned into mud

and the mud into daffodils, which he ate until

love turned into water and the water into wine

and the wine — how I miss you

there, among the lepers, earning your sainthood

daily, fevered and fervent.

The Chinese say vinegar is envy,

but the Chinese don’t know everything.

See the papaya tree, its heavy fruit hinting at the visible?

Pluck this world from our vision of love.

Pour out the vinegar.

Bless the wounds.


Jeffrey Levine is an award-winning poet and the Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Press. He is currently offering seminars and workshops in poetry and publishing, as well as in-depth manuscript reviews. Follow his posts on his website: www.jeffreyelevine.com.