Tuesday
Sep262017

A Poem in Which I Name the Bird

Hanif Abdurraqib


 

        For the Kenyon Young Writers

That circled above our heads in the leveled wheat
field off of route 39 where you wore white pants

& upon the threshed wheat laid a quilt that once sprung
from the finger of your mother's mother as the border

between us & 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 their 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 briefly warm & if I tell you
all of this, lover who 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 of what could eclipse the burning

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