Monday, June 11, 2012

Poems by Natasha Trethewey

[the new poet laureate of the United States]

What Is Evidence 

Not the fleeting bruises she'd cover
with makeup, a dark patch as if imprint
of a scope she'd pressed her eye too close to,
looking for a way out , nor the quiver
in the voice she'd steady, leaning
into a pot of bones on the stove, Not
the teeth she wore in place of her own, or
the official document-- its seal
and smeared signature-- fading already,
the edges wearing. Not the tiny marker
with its dates, her name, abstract as history.
Only the landscape of her body--splintered
clavicle, pierced temporal-- her thin bones
settling a bit each day, the way all things do.


In the dream, I am with the Fugitive
Poets. We've gathered for a photograph.
Behind us, the skyline of Atlanta
hidden by a photographer's backdrop--
a lush pasture, green, full of soft-eyed cows
lowing a chant that sounds like no, noYes,
I say to the glass of bourbon I am offered.
We're lining up now -- Robert Penn Warren,
his voice just audible above the drone
of bulldozers, telling us where to stand.
Say "race,"  the photographer croons. I'm in
blackface again when the flash freezes us.
My father's white, I tell them, and rural.
You don't hate the South? they ask. You don't hate it? 

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