The Body's Question: Poems

The Body's Question: Poems

by Tracy K. Smith

ISBN: 9781555973919

Publisher Graywolf Press

Published in Calendars/Multicultural

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Sample Chapter

Chapter One

SOMETHING LIKE DYING, MAYBE Last night, it was bright afternoon Where I wandered. Pale faces all around me. I walked and walked looking for a door. For some cast-off garment, looking for myself In the blank windows and the pale blank faces. I found my wristwatch from ten years ago And felt glad awhile. When it didn't matter anymore being lost, The sky clouded over and the pavement went white. I stared at my hands. Like new leaves, Light breaking through from behind. Then I felt your steady breathing beside me And the mess of blankets where we slept. I woke, touching ground gently Like a parachutist tangled in low branches. All those buildings, those marvelous bodies Pulled away as though they'd never known me. GOSPEL: JUAN We crossed the border Hours before dawn Through a hole Dug under a fence. We crossed Dressed as soldiers, Faces painted Mud green. The coyotes That promised We'd make it, gave us A straw broom To drag behind, Erasing our tracks. They gave us meat Drugged for the dogs. Farther off, There were engines, Voices, a light That swept the ground. We crossed On our bellies. I wonder If we'll ever stand up. CREDULITY We believe we are giving ourselves away, And so it feels good, Our bodies swimming together In afternoon light, the music That enters our window as far From the voices that made it As our own minds are from reason. There are whole doctrines on loving. A science. I would like to know everything About convincing love to give me What it does not possess to give. And then I would like to know how to live with nothing. Not memory. Nor the taste of the words I have willed you whisper into my mouth. SHADOW POEM You know me But the gauze that fetters the earth Keeps you from knowing We were souls together once Wave after wave of ether Alive outside of time I'm still there Though twice I curled Into a speck-sized marvel And waited In the wet earth of you Briefly human You fear everything And live by a single Inconstant light Listening Hearing nothing A radio stuck between stations The second time I played giddy music On my blinking heart Now I watch the dumb machine Of your body loving With the loveless wedge of you That made me When I want to tell you something I say it in a voice The shadow of water I don't wake you But the part of you That's still like me That rises above your body When your body Sinks into itself The part that doesn't Belong to you Knows what it hears You are not the only one Alive like that


Excerpted from "The Body's Question: Poems" by Tracy K. Smith. Copyright © 2003 by Tracy K. Smith. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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