Wednesday, April 22, 2020

A Poem in Which I Name the Bird by Hanif Abdurraqib

A Poem in Which I Name the Bird

that circled above our heads in the leveled wheat field off route 39
where you wore white pants & upon the threshed wheat laid, as the border

between us, a quilt that once sprung from the fingers of your mother’s mother
& that which will one day cover our bodies & to mask the sun,

there were two wings & I know the work of the poet is to say bird 
or to say wings & not speak of the lineage but if I tell you that as a boy

on my grandmother’s lap, we pointed to the sky at dusk & yelled the names of what cut
through the fat clouds on the way to somewhere  south of the season we reckoned

with & if I tell you that once, the albatross stretched itself over the project rooftop
& the land was black but for the snow that fell for six whole months & there were no funerals

& everyone stayed inside with someone who kept them warm
& if I tell you that all of this, lover I am reaching across the aching landscape to pull

close, then you must believe that in the wheat field, when we were together,
I knew well that what could eclipse the burning

or I knew well what would give the blessing of shade,
a darkness over anything trying to take us from each other

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