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Record for a UF thesis. Title & abstract won't display until thesis is accessible after 2011-05-31.

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0024554/00001

Material Information

Title: Record for a UF thesis. Title & abstract won't display until thesis is accessible after 2011-05-31.
Physical Description: Book
Language: english
Creator: North, Phoebe
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: English -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Creative Writing thesis, M.F.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Statement of Responsibility: by Phoebe North.
Thesis: Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Local: Adviser: Wade, Sidney E.
Electronic Access: INACCESSIBLE UNTIL 2011-05-31

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2009
System ID: UFE0024554:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0024554/00001

Material Information

Title: Record for a UF thesis. Title & abstract won't display until thesis is accessible after 2011-05-31.
Physical Description: Book
Language: english
Creator: North, Phoebe
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: English -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Creative Writing thesis, M.F.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Statement of Responsibility: by Phoebe North.
Thesis: Thesis (M.F.A.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Local: Adviser: Wade, Sidney E.
Electronic Access: INACCESSIBLE UNTIL 2011-05-31

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2009
System ID: UFE0024554:00001


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SQUALL LINES By PHOEBE NORTH A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLOR IDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE RE QUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF FINE ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2009 1

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2009 Phoebe North 2

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For Jordan, who keeps me grounded 3

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Many thanks to the editors of the publications in which these poem s first appeared: Death Metal Poetry : The Darlings; Nth Position : All Children, Except One, Peter Gnashes his Pretty White Teeth with Joy; Umbrella : Sonnet for the State Fair; Weave : Body, Decomposing under Twigs and Leaves in a Gull y in Grantwood, Speaks, and Ford, Limited. I would also like to thank Sidney Wade, for her enthusiasm her encouragement, and her resolute dedication to the stra ngeness of my poetry. I am al so indebted to my committee members, John Cech and Kenneth Kidd, whose passion for children's literature has inspired me to take my own passions seriously. I would like to thank my familymy mother, P hyllis, and my siste r, Emilyfor their love and support during my odyssey in Fl orida. Artists themselves, they have always encouraged me toward excellence. I am eternally obliged to Jordan Etzel, the Penelope to m y Odysseus, whose patience and humor have rescued me from peril more times than I can recall. I would also like to thank my friends, the wr iters, who are now s cattered along the length of the east coast. W ithout their letters and their coffee dates, I would have been lost. Speaking of coffee, I would like to thank the staff of Volta in downtown Gainesville for tolerating my presence o nce a week (and sometimes much more often than th at) for the past year. Their coffee kept me writing. And finally, though he cannot possibly know how m uch of a help he has been, I would like to thank Sammy Katz, who puts the companion in companion animal. 4

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TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ...............................................................................................................4 ABSTRACT.....................................................................................................................................7 THE WELL-WISHER................................................................................................................ .....8 THE SEEDLING.............................................................................................................................9 PETER GNASHES HIS PRETTY WHITE TEETH WITH JOY.................................................10 STORMY, MISTY'S FOAL ON TAU CETI 8.................................................................................11 A TIPI IN WINKIE COUNTRY...................................................................................................12 FORD, LIMITED.................................................................................................................. ........13 BODY, DECOMPOSING UNDER TWIGS AND LEAVES IN A GULLY IN GRANTWOOD, SPEAKS.....................................................................................................14 ELAYNE........................................................................................................................................15 ECONOLODGE GATEWAY.......................................................................................................16 HOLE DREAM..................................................................................................................... ........17 ALL CHILDREN, EXCEPT ONE................................................................................................18 THE MARTIN...............................................................................................................................19 SHED BUILDING, AUGUST.......................................................................................................20 THE DARLINGS...........................................................................................................................21 TINKERER IN TERRA INCOGNITA ............................................................................................22 FEVER...........................................................................................................................................23 THE SEDGWICK AVE NUE STATION......................................................................................24 ORANGE DREAM................................................................................................................... ....25 SELF-PORTRAIT, 22...................................................................................................................26 VIVARIUM....................................................................................................................... ............27 5

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SONNET FOR THE STATE FAIR...............................................................................................28 SMOKING ON YOUR BACK PORCH AFTER A LONG ABSENCE......................................29 RED-EARED SLIDER............................................................................................................... ...30 ON MELANCHOLY.................................................................................................................. ...31 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.........................................................................................................32 6

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7 Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Fine Arts SQUALL LINES By Phoebe North May 2009 Chair: Sidney Wade Major: Creative Writing In his novel The Well-Wishers Edward Eager writes: Magic doesn' t seem like the kind of thing that would be true, when you come to think of it. Still, neither do airplanes and electric lights and outer space, when you come to think of them These poems endeavor to explore all manner of true things, from abandoned subway stati ons to the secret histor ies of parents to the places children go to when they are stolen away. Most of all, these poems endeavor to explain magic: the magic just beneath the surface of the suburbs, the magic just beneath the surface of a girl.

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THE WELL-WISHER If you ever had magic powers descend on you s uddenly, out of the blue, you' ll know how Jane felt. Edward Eager, Half Magic Tomorrow will be the morning of discovery. A translucent egg, as big as the bough of your arms, will lie on the sidewalk on the way to school, cracks splintering the amethyst shell while something inside glows, growing. Or maybe a creature with skin like flints of green glass will stumble out of the honey-suckle brambles during recess, craning his neck toward you, opening a hungry mouth of little needle-teeth, bleating and unfurling still-sticky wings. Maybe you'll pull the right book from the right shelf in the library and the carpeted floor will open up like supermarket doorsbreathless revealing a dark tunnel down, its metal walls dim-lit by winking jewel-toned lights a nd lined with rusted cogs. Maybe tomorrow the little brown ants that form a dotted line across your desk will stop to watch you do your long division, waving their antennae at you, forcing whispered answers through their saw-mouthed jaws. Maybe tomorrow you'll amble into the neighbor's yard and the oak trees will sway to the side, revealing a tiny village saltbox houses in miniature, stores filled with little burlap sack s of grain, horses trotting at shin-height pulling matchstick carts. Maybe. Still tonight you can't help but stay up late, clutching the Eveready you poached from the junk drawer, heavy blankets tented over your head, savagely feasting on your chapter-books and wondering what morning, its yellow light already smothering your gray suburb, might bring. 8

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THE SEEDLING My father curled an orange peel into a rose and set the white-fleshed orb against the sill for the morning then sat up in the twin bed to pen lyrics in his loose-leaf book: I love Mar ci, I love Marci til the end of time, if only she understood me, if only he sketch ed her silhouette into the margin, cross-hatched shadows in blue ballpoint, tender curves blossoming off the ink-smeared page to the star-stung night above the rented room over the barber's shop. Down the highway, under duller skies, Marci sat on the bed in her parents' house, peeling off her pantyhose. She rubbed her swollen arch es, scratched her thighs with long, neat nails, th en, startled, stared off as she felt the thing inside her shift, settle in, take root. 9

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PETER GNASHES HIS PRETTY WHITE TEETH WITH JOY He was solitude, squatting on the red enamel tricycle, squinting into the searing morning sun. A tow-headed boy. The only living creature. Digging swollen boy-hands into clay so il. Building trenches with a blue plastic spade. Black flies were drawn to him. And white stars. As he orbited the bright galaxy of dandelion stalks, saw grass, bound only by a force field of honeysuckle vines tangled into a chain link fence. Precious, precious, he was the jewel-toned beetle that pushed the sun and even the ball of burning dung, scorching the pink heels of his own fat hands. 10

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STORMY, MISTY'S FOAL ON TAU CETI 8 Horse Ettie aspirates the sound to her m attress. She is coiled under synthetic down, safe from the mistral that cuts in from the empty forest through her thread-bare drapes. Horse The words in great-great-grandm a's soft-back book, ink blurred on crumbling pages: In the distance were the wild horses. The horses galloped swiftly and, soon, were out of sight. Ettie stares at the creature on the cover, stumped. He looks back with bulbous eyes, his long face thickly veined a nd twisted. She asks her aunt, who pauses to shield the evening light from her face with a gloved hand as she gathers up her cuttin gs and gives a shrug. So Ettie hoofs it back inside, falling on the musty old sofa, grumbling, and continues to read: They knew he was the finest foal in the world. Oh the beauty She begins to see the tangled mane, the sinews that flow under the chestnuta sort of oily purple-black, she guessedcoat, the clever ears that dart toward her when she dares to speak aloud her spell: Horse. Horse. It nev er works. But some nights, while the triplet moons rise and fall above their little house, Ettie swears she hears the timpani of hoof beats swell the yard, swears she hears thin nicker ing outside her bedroom door. 11

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A TIPI IN WINKIE COUNTRY There was a suburb. And there were initials in the sidewalk. My father dipped his index finger into concrete slick lik e the surface of dirty water. Made mountains. Made cliff faces. Submerged himself up to the joint. He walked me down to the creek's edge so I cou ld watch him break wrist-thick limbs with his pen knife. Tether them together. So under a canopy of bamboo and burlap he could tell me about Mombi, about Pumpkinhead Jack, about Tik-tokker s going to rust in the rain. Grinning. Drawing ghosts with the filter of his ciga rette. Huddling close to whisper to me about how we would beat back the coming storm. 12

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FORD, LIMITED in the summer the back of my thighs stick to the leatherette and m y fingers are burnt by the metal parts of the seat belt long baked in the august sun I've grown up along this highway hiking through gravel and massive dandelion clocks who swell to the size of grapefruits and bow their necks as 18-wheelers pass and I'm in the bench seat squirming under the lap-belt sun screened my bare feet tracing wide circles over the floor mats and I gulp down a twelve-cent can of grape soda the cold perspiration trailing over my wrists with sticky palm s I roll the windows down and outside the mounting winds rattle through the Watchung Mountains as my mother steps on the clutch shifts it to fourth and we sail up and away from the road my skittish heart leaping and catching like a sour candy at the base of my throat. 13

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BODY, DECOMPOSING UNDER TWIGS AND LEAVES IN A GULLY IN GRANTWOOD, SPEAKS I. Who are these girls who dig small, painted nails in to the soft f lesh of their palms? Who clench their crooked teeth? Who are a ll bad posture, budding breasts? They've slipped past the rusted chain at the gate pressed into the park after dusk, com e to sit hunched in the wood castle, to knot their fingers around their girlfriends' wrists, to summon spirits from the dark. II. The girls are with me, their eyes boiling bright T hey scamper on hairless legs, scattering the brambles. I once was one of them, wading through the floode d bike paths. I had a second-hand ten-speed, collarbones, a pelvis, all crushed bef ore going soft in long years of autumn rain. Now I have the damp smell of moss, the cr acked birch boughs netting the m oonlight above. Standing over me, they pull off their flip-flops let the green water wash between dirty toes. 14

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ELAYNE Her first marriage was the one her father wanted, the walk-up in Clifton with parquet floors, the china pattern her husband chose when they could not compromise, the calligraphy classes in the city on Thursday afternoons. After their argumentscasserole on the ceiling fan hed hold her down, running his fingers over the nape of her neck, bl owing air through his teeth as one would comfort an animal. Quiet. Now, hed say. Their divorce came as swiftly, came as easily as he did. Fr ank-from -the-office said hed give her her babies. Decades later the only vestige of those first, frantic strokes was the photograph in the guest room: a tawny skinned bride, copper-haired beneath the softbox, lace he m spilling down the carpeted steps, her chin angled up, her jaw clenched. 15

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ECONOLODGE GATEWAY Burdened by the weight of our possessions, the borrowed Camry gives an idle cough while I suck down the last, meek breath of instan t coffee from white Styrofoam. Last night I dragged my body across your hands and we both pretended that I owned youon the Percale sheets, across the coarse carpet, as if, behind drawn curtains, we could murder all those other angels the brash girl who hurled a desk lamp at your head, the big-eyed teenager who show ed you her wrists in diners, the June siren drunk at the edge of the surf. But I am a different creature in the Carolina morning, listening to the stations flicker out as we cross county lines, while, in the passenger's s eat, you dream of summer. 16

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17 HOLE DREAM I work in a cubicle, rent a studio apartm ent with popcorn ceilings, wall-to-wall carpet. You come from another planet, come to me through the black picture window wearing boot-cut blue jeans, a plaid sport shirt, and holes down the front of your body: holes like open mouths, holes that breathe, bottomless holes, hungry holes. We fall in love, fall into our routines. Together, we buy an old colonial. On weekends you patch the roof while I butcher the meat. I finally let the doctors cut me open, filing down the edges of my skin so that I, too, have holes, three holes: a hole in my throat a hole in my gut, a hole in the heart of my pelvis. At night we rock together, endlessly regi fting. But our biologies are too different. Our children will never live.

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18 ALL CHILDREN, EXCEPT ONE The mermaids have hot mouths stained blue with sea-ice. When they pull you down, press their lips to your neck, you can see the pink blood blossom between their breasts Something's gone wrong. You're changing, wasting afternoons staring into the low water while the other boys fight their eternal battle, wood pistols against plastic swords, oblivious to the cold water that rushes around your thighs when you wade in past the undertow, wandering out beyond the knife-floor of the coral reef.

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19 THE MARTIN From under the eaves the jays call out a warning. At the edge of the yard our Jack Russell stops to regard me, wiggling his stump tail as feathers fall from his mouth in wet handfuls like gray March snow. Edging closer, hard-eyed, I see the gasping bird. His red insides seep out onto the clover; coal eyes flick up at me. I stoop over, stall, touch his sticky wing. All other life recedes, embarrassed. There is only the Martin, ink-breast tremb ling, and m e: bent, whole, considering stones or how else to proceed as he breathes out tiny squalls into the weeds.

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20 SHED BUILDING, AUGUST All day, liquid fists of humidity tightened on the horizon. I heard the sounds of digestion, wet, from the green yard where my lean, shirtless father steadied sheets of metal across metal beams, turning screws till he stripped them. I, too, cast off my skin, sitting on the back steps in my underwear, sweat wearing down rivers in the baby hairs of my belly. When the storm clouds started to feast on the sky, I shadowed him to the screen porch He sucked at his Camels, muttering about whether walls would hold, unstartled at the clatterings of thunder while the copper-scented rain streamed through the wire mesh.

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21 THE DARLINGS We built our rooms from wet cardboard, duct tape, scrawling curtains on walls with sepia crayons, cornflower-toned jays peering in. Barefoot, my brother and I played checkers on the soggy floor. Barefoot, my brother tore my hair from my scalp. And my brother (who was always my brother) grew freckled and dark in the sun. Grew lean. Dug crooked teeth into my forearm. Spat baby teeth and blood. And I watched as my brother, his naked back mottled with bruises, constellations in the shape of m y wide-spread palms, built his raft, knotting bright nylon rope to old tires, staring me down as he drifted away through the litter-strewn banks of our neighborhood creek.

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22 TINKERER IN TERRA INCOGNITA Tumbling tippler kitchen nights with the warm onger and the barooming barrister whom fistpoun down on the tabl etop political harumphing and tipples tumblers: tin k tink while I head-lost drug-plump drawl pe ncilfine su bway maps, scape routes and hatches loveblind si ng-a-songs swaying W ell well met my true true love cry saltsea nosedoun to form Firmica. One night will crawl way from warm hunger's mouth for midnight pisspausewill see-thru propt door barrister bo mb baking, stitching redwires welding black then looking up grinsinister snee ring: W elcome. While the kitchen faucet sings out rusting drip s down to dishes dirty-caked: tin ktink tinktink tinktank tockt.

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23 FEVER There are soft-boiled eggs behind my eyes; if I pushed my thumbs th rough their delicate shells, hot liquid would come spilling out. My throat is gunked with spoiled milk. I would shove my fever-thick tongue aside, scale my mouth clean with huge, ham-fisted hands if those hands were more than pin-pricked ghosts (I can't reckon how these bones and tendons mate with flesh, muscle, motion). I feel my neck, my jaw, what would have been my tail, the weight of my body on my joints, the way a melody could fold into me, notes resting in the sweaty sheets and pinned beneath my pelvis like drunk bees, my body their hive. Everything hums, crashing; inside my eardrums, the fluid streams from sinus to sinus. I'm full of bees. I watch them reverberate and wonder how many souls have flown this way, wrestling free, breaking away, the foot fall echoing as their bodies took off down hazy streets without them.

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24 THE SEDGWICK AVENUE STATION I stumbled into you like a Monday commuter m aking wrong turns down dark passageways. While others tinkered with their robotic shells. Turning Phillips head screws. Flattening coils. I groped for your dirty edges with my fingertips, reckoning your fuzzy system, back propagating. I stood dumb at dust motes. At jammed turnstiles Stood slack-jawed at th e intricacies of your cracked mosaics. Once I turned clock springs. Once I recorded my self into stuttered m onotone. Once I pickled myself for the ages. Until you disassembled me between avenues. Until you fed me leaves of sage. Until you led me down this maze of aching subway tunnels. Pulling at my hands. Like I hadn't shed my crude machinery. Like I couldn't trace your frequency alone. Like I couldn't feel your scope lights pressing at my back.

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25 ORANGE DREAM In my dream my body swells like an egg sac; something shivers inside my bellys drumhead, tapioca balls in white pudding. I lie down on my old twin bed and give birth to sixteen honey-sweet oranges with perfect, dimpled peels. At my feet, my mother cradles each fruit in her coffee-brown hands before nestling them inside a bag of crimson mesh. Gingerly, she hangs them from a hook screwed into the ceiling where they pulse amidst the stick-on stars. Kneeling in the rayon sheets, I watch fissures split the fleshy pith, watch yellow juices bead the warp and weft. My mother puts her palm down on my shoulder. We steel ourselves for the second birth.

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26 SELF-PORTRAIT, 22 I dredge translucent powder over my face between short gasps of percolator coffee. Neither helps. In the library the lights fluoresce and lend my skin a sallow cast; purple marks like thumb prints shadow my eyes. I've had six cavities this year and written no love letters. But on my breaks I slip out beyond the gates and go to where the water trips in threads of brown and green over broken-throated bottles left gleaming in the copper light. Tugging off my shoes, my socks, I settle in against the bank and pick up where I left off: with mutant pigs, marauders, monks who take down histories after the fall. Overhead, the future looms in nimbus skies criss-crossed with maple hands.

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27 VIVARIUM I am the cultivator. Pressing my thumbs deep into the soft, black earth. I raise hairy limbs of red chokeberry, of Lady' s slipper orch ids. Untangling the pale, gnarle d roots the mandrake has thrust into ground. A rusted spading fork. A pair of l opping shears. I am the solemn horticulturist. I am the solitary tiller. Once I was a steel parts fitter and you, a plante r of seedlings. Deep down in my circuitry. A sprocket jammer, humming incantations until those noxious weeds unfur led. Until they came up nightshades. Came up as cancers. Until the bi ndweed bloomed, leaning in to the white illumination of your return.

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28 SONNET FOR THE STATE FAIR We are at a crossroads in Augusta when the dark grasses start shooting up. Blooming wild roses crack gray asphalt, curling over the humming curves of neon lights. The Ferris wheel groans as the kudzu jams its girders, smothering the sun-burnt lovers who read each other's bubbled flesh like Braille in the steel baskets. Moon-eyed, the Jersey heifers bellow in the barn. Prize roosters rise up on frantic feathers to greet their Bantam prophet, while on the shuddering park bench, I turn to kiss you, my breath boiling from the guzzled Corona, before you, too, are swallowed whole.

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29 SMOKING ON YOUR BACK PORCH AFTER A LONG ABSENCE The yellow lawn stretches out, the tender grass sheared short by the old gas mower. Bald patches shine through in the gray sun, dun and dusty; in the space where the above-ground pool once stood, a sparrow drops to bathe, floundering. Over the fence, past brittle bones of vines, green algae boats swiftly skim the oiled-blue surface of the neighbor's pool. A crumpled ball floats listless as if stirred by Daddy Long Legs who let one needle-limb down, then another, to chilled plastic. The grill is toppled, teeth gone red with rust, grimacing. I shed ash and draw your sweatshirt tight around me. The steps groan and splinter. Above, the sun dips, banking in leafless trees, scattering a dusky smell through the black-burnt breeze.

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30 RED-EARED SLIDER Below, cold water. Overhead, currents of warm light laced with small white snakes, white unfurling leavesuntil the carapace slides over everything, all smothered, all dim, all sight curled dormant under streams, under flow of succulent insect calls. Stoneflies and alderflies. The sile nt blues of m innows as they shiver through the green-washed black.

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31 ON MELANCHOLY She got it from her father, their planet of m ourning, where he taught her how to say goodbye to the transient odor of crayon wax, to the beagle's greenseeded brown eyes, to the work crews who would install themselves on the edge of the highway she loved and blow it apart. Sometimes, despite herself, she would try grabbing on, squeezing herself shut in the backseat of their Chevrolet, repeating Remember! Remember! But all she managed to grasp were vagaries: summer, daylight, the smell of gasoline, the cassette deck hissing something, probably Joni Mitchell. So she knew it was be tter to anticipate endings: the wild sunset over the b leachers dimming into burnished night; boys in their soft hooded sweatshirts graying; the journey home after a date. Day would always, always come shattering the am ber squares between the window bars, veining her lover's skin with sterling filaments as he slept, no m atter how many times she called out to the street lamps as they flickered to life: Hold On. Wait.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Phoebe North grew up in New Jersey. She rece iv ed her M.F.A. from the University of Florida in the spring of 2009. 32