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by N. A’Yara Stein One night on the crunchy sand of Biloxi my mother lay with my father and i became I. The stars, she said, whispered; her husband was a distant silken conspirator. Afterwards, they returned to their sparring and to the delta with its raped cotton plants in reddened soil. They toiled, oiled the machines almost ferverishly as the doomed do. Don't you? Haven't you? Never? I have want of luxury but not fury. Easy promises slipped bee-like from tongues and children's ears grew numb with fear of the way things fall apart and people disappear. N. A’Yara Stein is a Romani-American poet and writer living on a chicory farm and has been nominated twice for the 2010 Pushcart Prize. Born in Memphis, she holds an MFA from the University of Arkansas and has been published in The New Orleans Review, The Birmingham Poetry Review, The Oxford American, California Quarterly, Chiron Review, Crossroads: a Journal of Southern Culture, Great Midwestern Quarterly, and Poetry Motel. She currently lives near Chicago with her sons and is looking for a book publisher. 

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by N. A’Yara Stein Life. Domain. Kingdom. The embayment alongside the alluvial plains Is where I was born and where I grew up. It’s a trip to see some rare November cotton: Commissioned to collect, record, and describe, Identify by name each rigid principal of tribe. We get out and stand around. No one there knows me now. Extinct, I’m just going through the motions. I tell you a secret even I don’t know Showing you the succession of great-greats On tombstones that begin to begin in 1753. Phylum. Class. Order. Rank is relative, restrictive to schema. By summer’s end the boys in these towns Will molt, farmer’s tan and all, into men. Without the built-in checks to help You keep the many names straight, That rudimentary or basic knowledge Important to survival, you talk with no one. Family. Genus. Species. In the antebellum kitchen we cut onions. Developed from a common ancestral form, Monophyletic, some places we never reach. We eat in silence. You say you love the food. Everybody does. We are both crying tears we don’t mean. Hybrid. Variety. Aberration. Between me and you, a distinction is to be made; I've crunched all the numbers, culled the statistics. A tiny mass of Latin rattles in my brain; Words scribble like wasps on the water’s surface. Somewhere between this moment and forever, Somewhere between the two extremes, There is some kind of common

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