This seems to me like a love poem–the love of being in this world. And so rare to see the word heart used without sentimentality.
Look at the birds. Even flying
out of nothing. The first sky
is inside you, open
at either end of day.
The work of wings
was always freedom, fastening
one heart to every falling thing.
Li-Young Lee from Book of My Nights,
I am gratified that the last three winners of the Pulitzer Prize are poets I deeply admire, most recently Natalie Diaz. Here is a poem from her fierce, sensual book, Postcolonial Love Poem.
The Beauty of a Busted Fruit
When we were children, we traced our knees,
shins, and elbows for the slightest hint of wound,
searched them for any sad red-blue scab marking us
both victim and survivor.
All this before we knew that some wounds can’t heal,
before we knew the jagged scars of Great-Grandmother’s
amputated legs, the way a rock can split a man’s head
open to its red syrup, like a watermelon, the way a brother
can pick at his skin for snakes and spiders only he can see.
Maybe you have grown out of yours—
maybe you no longer haul those wounds with you
onto every bus, through the side streets of a new town,
maybe you have never set them rocking in the lamplight
on a nightstand beside a stranger’s bed, carrying your hurts
like two cracked pomegranates, because you haven’t learned
to see the beauty of a busted fruit, the bright stain it will leave
on your lips, the way it will make people want to kiss you.
We don’t have very many contemporary poems that are curses, but it’s a genre that fascinates me. Here is one from the Paris Review daily poems:
To Her Husband for Beating Her
Through your heart’s lining let there be pressed—slanting down—
. A dagger to the bone in your chest.
. Your knee crushed, your hand smashed, may the rest
. Be gutted by the sword you possessed.
(Translated from the Middle Welsh of Gwerful Mechain by A. M Juster)
from the book WONDER & WRATH / Paul Dry Books
also appeared in Rattle
Sometimes just scrolling through poems that pepper my inbox can seem a chore, but once in awhile, one captures my attention. This morning it was this:
There is a falling of hair, continuous upon the earth.
And the sweepers sweep it away with their long brooms—
away, where mice retrieve it to line their nests,
or it bountifully curls around eyeless Styrofoam skulls,
or is stitched to the sanctified undervests of masochists.
Though bald men pray for miraculous restoration,
though ladies choke back tears as they tip their beauticians,
it fulfills its function through infinite faithlessness.
So if it is true that I must live without you, stranded
here in the land of good behavior, I begrudge my hair nothing,
I send it victorious into the world, even though
you braided it one night with your hands whose touch
I pretend to remember, braided it the whole length,
tight as you could, just to let it go.
Usually I email poets to ask permission to reprint their poems, but I couldn’t find an email for Claire. You can reed more of her poems here.