A Letter to Lucie About Lucie
She gave it with her living hand to me a copy of The Master Letters with her living hand to meThick with a thickness they now I can't say how many re- printings later new copies have lost the paperThey're printed on is thinner now but it itself was new She gave it to me new she must have had it sinceThe book was new to her she must have kept it in her castle She signed it in the Little Castle that was where we wereTogether she you must have kept it in your castle for Twenty years Master how long had you lived in the castleBefore I for a single afternoon came where are you To ask I think the castle followed you your whole lifeAnd now you've taken the castle to wherever you have gone Master of now gone from now she must have kept thatCopy for twenty years before she with her living hand Gave it to me a paperback still glossy withThe printing date 4/97 still glossy beneath The gloss or Master was it printed on the glossAs we are we who walk on Earth are printed on the gloss And liable to smudge and disappear if touchedI ask you where are you to ask I might have called you after I heard but first I'll tell the story we were under-ground waiting for a train my daughter and I waiting for An A or D to ride it down to Union Square whenI heard a woman go under the train the sound must Have been the train crushing her body but the sound soundedLike a piece of paper tearing that was what it sounded Like then screaming and the screaming was the soundI turned to Master then I turned my daughter’s face away I might have called you after I might have said It soundedLike paper Master where are you to ask do you know now to Whom she was Master the woman beneath the trainYou must have kept it in your little castle not for me in Particular but for whoever would be there callingYou when your love was called to cross the bridge from hand to hand The book would for a moment make as it was givenAnd I was there I called you and you with your living hand Took the book down from the shelf beside the sprig of heatherFrom the Brontës’ moors and handed it to me a sprig that looked Alive still of green heather from across the sea
“Letter to Lucie About Lucie” from CAIN NAMED THE ANIMAL: by Shane McCrae.
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux April 5th, 2022.
Copyright © 2022 by Shane McCrae.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Shane McCrae’s most recent books are Sometimes I Never Suffered, a finalist for the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Rilke Prize, and The Gilded Auction Block, both published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He has received a Lannan Literary Award, a Whiting Writer’s Award, an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. He lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University.
Cain Named the Animal expands upon the biblical, heavenly world that McCrae has been building throughout his previous collections; he writes of Eden, of the lost tribe that watched time enter the garden and God rehearse the world, and of the cartoon torments of hell. Yet for McCrae, these outer bounds of our universe are inseparable from the lives and deaths on Earth, from the mundanities and miracles of time passing and people growing up, growing old, and growing apart. As he writes, “God first thought time itself / Was flawed but time was God’s first mirror.”