Reading by the author

At the hospital, at the grave; in the real story, there are no
beloveds. The horoscope reads: what you are longing for is everything
curtail your desire into a pinprick of spit. This was April where you
dream of dinner parties, blue velvet, & the lungs
engorged with sick. To no surprise, you pen a crown of sonnets
& fail. The country knows nothing of protection,
growing feverish with each headline & punchy tweet.
Hysteric, you start online therapy, stock up on sugar &
imagine what you’ll tell the children one day. You picture their
jawbones and tender noses, cradled in the palm of a partner who
kisses you nightly. What was once simple is now a bedtime prayer,
leavened into new blood. Tomorrow, tomorrow, words lose
meaning said enough times so you don’t ask for
news. Ada writes, nothing is ordinary even when it is
. Cutting hair, cooking meals, women and their
pixelated hues. You drink in their image, greedy for anything
quotidien. At least this is the same, how the body
responds to beauty undressed, the soak wet, the heat
simmer. The body remains a body, a glitter hungry
tremolo. Historic, unprecedented, and yet
underneath it all, some terrified joy. Yearning
or blessing, your mother hums about life,
never enough and too precious to lose.

Poet's Note

It is no wonder we are living in extraordinary times. This poem, which begins as an abecedarian and then diverges from its form, is a flurry of observation from our current moment. In writing this, I was interested in deconstructing the real and imagined of this decade so far. A self-portrait, this poem is also about the lived memory of the body. What parts of us are we more attuned to in times of siege and crisis? Despite its lingering shadow, this poem is also an ode to gratitude, for the smallness which perseveres in the face of the “historic” and “unprecedented”—a prayer for “some terrified joy.” What we consider sacred now is different from before—“dinner parties, blue velvet & the lungs,” even “sugar”—but just as immortal. It matters what we choose to remember. It matters to dream, to tender, and to care.