C. D. Wright/United States of America
C. D. Wright (1949, USA) is the author of more than a dozen books, most recently, One With Others: a little book of her days which won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize. Intended as a tribute to a radically iconoclastic friend, it also revolves around a particular series of events in the Arkansas Delta in 1969.
In 2004 she was named a MacArthur Fellow and in 2005 she was awarded the Robert Creeley Prize. Her book Rising, Falling, Hovering won the 2009 International Griffin Poetry Prize. A limited edition of her long poem Breathtaken with linocuts by Walter Feldman was published by Ziggurat in 2012.
If one stood perfectly still. Even in the withering hours
of then. Hair down to here. Being alive and quiet.
One could forget oneself. Forget what one didn’t even recognize.
How mad it felt. Subliminally. One could pick out goldfinches
and mourning cloaks among the dying stalks of cosmos,
and across the ditch of grey wastewater they use to irrigate
the burial ground, a young man in a late-flowering tree
taking our photograph.
The set was on when she fell asleep
In black and white
a woman was gliding through a garden in period clothes
and a child was touching
a pane of wavy glass with the flat of her hand
was all but flying down a spiral stairs in a flouncy gown
that showed off
the cut of her breasts and a lone golden strand
of hairplaying at her ear
It was because of…she didn’t want to grow any older
was strong the dream’s spores hung in the air
in another room
a parent was dying in short shallowing breaths
somewhere to put all of that emotional excess
that’s the way
it was when she began talking in fake accents
as a lake to avoid as many hours of living
dread as if dread
could be outslept; the stretch limo
in her eleven-year-old
head wrapped itself around the corner
That’s the way
it would be, everyone slender as drinking straws
or hurting or abjectly religious, everything
At 4 o’clock I am at the door
with a bare hand of snow
I undo my shirt
we’ll pick up at the next chapter
my beloved are the words
of the rambler
if not the words the substance
the snow smeared across my front
warm to the touch
though we remain separated
as if by a chair
and I unwilling to read ahead
Whether or not the park was safe
she was going in. A study concluded, for a park
to be successful there had to be women.
The man next to the monument must have broken
away from her. Perhaps years
before. That the bond had been carnal is obvious.
He said he was just out clearing his head.
They followed the walk of pollarded pears. His tone
distant but not disinterested. It was
an expensive suit, she could tell by the cut.
His face blocked by the felted hat. The cocked night
studded with satellites. Women
were known not to enter a park
if they smelled urine. They passed under the arch
together. At this point, he allowed, it
would be fine by him if he could sit at his desk
and watch his writing happen.
The left hand rests on the paper.
The hand has entered the frame just below the elbow.
The other hand is in its service.
The left moves along a current that is not visible
and on a signal likewise inaudible, goes still.
For the hand to respond the ink must be black.
There is no watermark.
One nail is broken well below the quick.
The others filed short.
The hand is drawn to objects.
In another’s it becomes pliant
and readily absorbs the moisture of the other’s.
It retains the memory of the smell of her infant son’s hair.
Everything having been written, the hand has to work hard
to get up in the spaces.
There is no tremor, but the skin is thin and somewhat
The veins stand out.
The hand has begun to gesture toward its ghosthood.
Though at times it becomes almost frisky.
The desk is side-lit.
The hand has options, but has chosen to stay
inside its own pale, thin walls.
It has begun to show signs of its own shoddy construction.
The hand is there to express shouts and whispers,
the afterimage of everything.
From the outside what light leaks through the blind
is blue, blue-grey.
There is a dog.
There is a fan.
The fan is on the dog.
The hand was having a hard time holding the pen.
A superficial cut.
A long clear silent night.
A book held open by a dolostone.
The occupant selects a sentence, No one knows
how small the smallest life is.
If there’s a call, it will not be answered.
A bath; the burning of sweetgrass soothe the limbs.
As a memory stings the brain.
The furniture serviceable but weird, on the verge
The vein of light under the door is a comfort
To the occupant.
The air inhales the passerine lines of a single singer.
A motorcycle saws through the song and goes.
An appliance purrs at intervals.
The pen was bought in Gubbio near
the thin band marking the great dying of dinosaurs.
The pen, a gift.
It has been designed to coax a scream
of beauty from a fissure
Iridium in the nib
They walk around in the stubble
of the field sharing a wine sap
after he cut his firewood he liked to sit
on a big log and listen to his blood rush
she turns her head in time to see
a flat iron float through an open window
it is late afternoon
she avoids looking
in its direction
she could feel
it moving toward her
in shaky black lines
a dog has appeared at the gate
for the second day in a row
against a dirty peach sky
a single car wobbles into the sun