The Next Country

by Idra Novey

selected by Carolyn Forche

The Candidate


After falsely accused
of dishonesty, a man
may slip into a hallway

and stroke the husk of curtain,
over the closest window,
the sloping musty fringe of it.

If there's no curtain,
he may stroke the glass.
If it lacks a window,

he may lean into the wall
and imagine one, crawl out of it
onto a small boat

in a covert pond. Rowing across,
he may rub the injunction
like a stone in his palm, consider

tossing it waterward,
or surrender, let it settle
in his pocket, caustic

and awkward. As he accepts
its weight, he may grow
dishonest, begin

a life of clambering
onto boats, pants sagging
with every manner of stone.

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