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Lavonne J. Adams :
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Lavonne J. Adams has received both the Persephone Poetry Prize and the Randall Jarrell/Harperprints Chapbook Award. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Southern Poetry Review, Connecticut Review, Briar Cliff Review, and Missouri Review. She teaches poetry at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
March 5th, 2008

I grew up with the accoutrements of pipe organs
filling our garage, some as small as piccolos,
some arriving like giants in rough-hewn crates.
On occasional Saturdays, I helped my father tune
what he had built inside quiet churches, each dim
as an underwater scene, each cool as a cave
no matter what season. I preferred the older
sanctuaries with their faint smell of damp,
with their dark mahogany pews and marble floors
that would clack beneath women’s Sunday heels.
I walked with my father the length of the nave
toward where a crucifix hung like a compass,
then veered right or left toward the organ’s console.
Before he disappeared down some dark hallway
like he would one day disappear forever, my father…

July 30th, 2007

At the base of the Taos mountains,
a fragmented tree, victim
of a lightning strike. As I pass,
I avert my gaze as if confronted by
something intimate in the paleness
of the exposed wood. A friend’s
son who was struck by lightning
later took his life. I wonder how
much that act hinged on burdens
I knew nothing about—a complex landscape
forged from disappointment and pain—
how much was due to the lightning strike’s
trauma, the exit wound like a stigmata.
Once, I longed for a life of extraordinary
goodness—hoped to radiate faith
like a five-hour sunburn, to heal others
with a touch. Now, I’m satisfied
with wisps of grace: letting cars merge
into thick traffic in front of me,
tipping…

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