Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Morning Reading: " We wanted something coarser than blood to course through us"

Two poems by Hillary Gravendyk who died on May 10. They appear in her first collection Harm (Omnidawn, 2011).  She lived with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis and had a double lung transplant five years ago. At the time of her death, she was an assistant professor of English at Pomona College where she had taught since 2009. 


Ahead the sky is winnowed to its smallest feature. Starred with damage, the body. What was promised, what was

revealed. A long staircase of wounds. Behind: unseen error. Or accident. Harm winking on, a neon sign that says
closed. Pain glued to each window. The rooms shadowed with harm. You offered anxiety, a harness made from care. 
Curved handle, intention. Harm a kind of adhesive. Skin clusters around the opening, ridged and thick. There are 
lighter and darker marks. They disclose. Paper echo, gesture. Bleakness along the spine of narrative. Harm flat as a 
swept floor. As a drawn planet. A bright story is requested. What will be touched? Machines, that flashing support, a 
threaded needle. And the body, sutured to harm.


These were our secrets: samples from a charred heart, beak ligament, sharp fist of serpentine. We traded our 

phosphorous and filament for a ten-pin lock and were comforted. We knew that the right chemicals could make
anything glow, knew that our discoveries were too delicate for exposure, and how distant, how troubling outside our 
rare cabinets! A little more protection and another specimen: clinging ring of iris, breath-bottle, bone, or scab. It was 
dangerous but it was ours for safekeeping. We wanted something coarser than blood to course through us: beeswarm 
and fiberglass. Wanted to glitter and wound and the same time.

(I am afraid the line breaks do not work in every format.)

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