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"Inside the Citadel"

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My steps scatter a flight of rock doves.
     Wings flutter,
         grime-gray feathers
         tinged pink with early light.
     The empty jar pops from my side.
                 It dances
             in my
         fumbling grasp.
     Red and white figures
chase each other
     across the jar's
         painted black background.
         The moment
                 stretches out,
     all flapping wings
         and tumbling pottery
     until my thumb hooks a spinning handle.
I haul the jar back to my side,
     hug the vessel
     against my belted tunic.
As the doves descend
     into new patterns
     across the palace grounds,
a hidden wedge of leather-wrapped bronze
     presses a reminder of itself
     into my ribs.


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