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Cross-Examination

         What is poetry which does not save
         Nations or people?

         —Czeslaw Milosz

         what is a country but the drawing of a line
         —Safia Elhillo


What is a nation which does not save
poetry? What is a poem but the gathering
of lines? What is a line but people
waiting? What is waiting but satisfaction
suspended? What is a break but a suspension
of breath? What is breath when the body
is broken? What is a line break but hunger
with no mouth? What is a nation where
no one is hungry? What is hunger but people
wanting? What is a line but desire given form?
What is a people but a form of survival? What
is a form without an outside? What is a country
without an other? What is a poem but a gesture
of reaching? Can a poem save a nation? Can a poem
survive a nation? Can a poem survive a savior? Can
a poem feed a people? Can a body survive
a people? What do you call a body bent in labor? Who
is this poem working for? What is a poem that leaves
people hungry? What is a poem that leaves people
wanting? When wanting takes leave, where
is the question? How can a poem be
when there is no question?


Claire Schwartz

Bennington Review

Fall / Winter 2017


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