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Cardinal Virtues
               For Simone ATANGANA BEKONO

Like a piece of fruit that’s heavy in the hand or too ripe,
with its dark brown leaves, like—
            think paper hearts that are starting to curl—like your pink carry-on was
laden with stuff, and the pink line of sky that appeared.
Like your hands and your face, covered in handcream or
the motion that brings you your food      while you sleep or you stand     
like a horse      and right after it’s gone      or the lonesome expression of the blank minibar.

Like the way it was to be on your back; thinking
of the hand     of the chef as it cleaves, into the red pulp; thinking
                          of the way that a man will draw blood once you’ve lowered your guard.

Like Houdini as you shrink from a hug; hold your stomach,
expecting the blow
the bruise

Like you choose: deep red velvet
or a sweetheart neckline
or a new pair of earrings
each day. Like a computable number of shirts, on rotation, or the earth-like white smell of the laundry

your room
or the blackhole of purple-near-blue
of a low blow

seeing stars        bursting confidence        like a balloon

like you bit in the meat of tomatoes on toast

nose to tail       magic trick       a woman being sawed up in two.

Like the one dot of oil (like an eye that observes) or the six perfect drops of white cream
                     the six spots of advice you won’t take. Like a face full of make-up you print
into a bedcloth      as you come up to surface       look up from your bowl

Like a plane or a boat

                     like a new reflection of old

                                    like a spoon, tasting raspberries
                                    timidly     standing

                                    wanting to scream about the colour of it.



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Partner to a press called Tenement, Hotel is a publications series for new approaches to fiction, non fiction & poetry & features work from established & emerging talent. Hotel provides the space for experimental reflection on literature’s status as art & cultural mediator. 

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