Katie Willingham: Two Poems

 

What we eat in my dreams


is always the forbidden: bread and more bread, a failure

of imagination. We are not calling it the long emergency,

but we are not not calling it that. Is this like the first silence

 

that fell between Adam and Eve?: what needed

to be named, what shook

with meaning but held still between them—

 

knife wrapped in a towel, ghost in the soapdish

waiting to lick the salt from our palms. God,

 

how amazing and useless to shower in summer,

the word no one comes up with for when you stay

long after you’re clean.

 

I gargle with salt, worry a chewed inner cheek with my tongue.

How did I get here, having done all I’ve done to myself?

 

 

Monday

“It’s all happening,” I whisper            to the succulent           as I water it,

knowing this is always true,               that I could say it

and mean it                 whenever, but right now         I am thinking

about indoor plants                 and where they imagine

the water comes from.            Do they know             about domesticity?

Do they know             I have a will different

from the sky?              That I              can be blamed for things.

I feel it now,                what happens next. This          is when I tell you

that a third of Americans        may not be able to afford

clean water                  in 2020,                       a year that is taking shape

all the time, and starting         to get claws.      This is also

a Monday,                   a new story breaking               out into the work week:

a letter                         signed by 15,000 scientists     about hurtling

toward destruction like           they haven’t noticed               we already know

and we have stopped               in the road,                  in our deer suits.

No one much talks      of agency                     in suspension—when

you are trying              not to happen to anything, how          much effort

it takes             to remain.

 

 

Katie Willingham is the author of Unlikely Designs (University of Chicago Press). Her poems can also be found in Iowa Review, Diagram, Poem-A-Day, Kenyon Review, Grist, and others. She is the poetry editor for Michigan Quarterly Review. You can spot her in person most of the time in the wilds of Brooklyn, New York, and online always in her virtual home at katiewillingham.com.

Image: GeoffS, morguefile.com

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1 Comment

  1. Hi katie !
    Your poetry is so free and as marvelous mixture with deep soul contemplation and leaning of our sensations, Very well Katie.

    Farewell

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