Ablate the Suncups, not the Ice: an Incantation
O god of the desublime, allay the vertical penitentestheir limbs, rest them back cold, not in precipitatebut in seed, in potential of hydrogen. Spoon in densityto be sung of their winter’s seed and soak. Sip pondto suncups, over sunrise. Far from the flat dispatchof heat, its stench, its wayward ever summer bargeand fallout. Jesus be a river. Be a untainted floatof deliquescent surge. Be saltless and cold.O pose of hope, allay the waterfall, hear their prayer,O bed of oxygen, divine surge. Be also brackish sea. Beseed of the frost, and supercooled. Be shade soup.Sweet hale of beloved drench and mitochondrial belly,be flint for the watery flame. Douse out the eventualcrunch, the big scorch, the rip of our primordial anusand mouth, suckling at the place of eco abundance. O sweet bio teat,O hygroscopic lordess. Were we to sit still and let ourselves be coldfor hours, wiped of web crack frost, mild sud of the slow glacier,rimed vat at the edge of rash season, our legs from twitching.O known keep of tomorrow, might we skill our motor by, pedalfrom the crib of our await. O stable evolver, an alms for safe passage,your earthen cooling, forgive us our erosion. Heal the demanding snows.
Excerpted from HERE IS THE SWEET HAND: Poems by francine j. harris.
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020.
Copyright © 2020 by francine j. harris.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
francine j. harris is the author of play dead, winner of the Lambda Literary and Audre Lorde Awards and a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Her first collection, allegiance, was a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery and PEN Open Book Awards. Originally from Detroit, she has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She is an associate professor of English at the University of Houston. Her latest collection, Here is the Sweet Hand, was published in August 2020.
"Entering mid-career with her extraordinary third book, harris . . . fully emerges as one of the best and most relevant contemporary poets. She writes with a historical and linguistic reach . . . She is also in league with some of the great practitioners of poetry that makes no distinction between the personal and the political, such as Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, and Adrienne Rich."
—Craig Morgan Teicher, NPR
"harris reveals one of the roles of the contemporary poet: to expose unpleasant truths of the past and present, to call out the aspects of our worst selves . . . harris is an expert practitioner and guide; we are always in her orbit, captivated as she manipulates language, un-doing worn traditions, engaging the reader intimately, and unforgettably."
—Mandana Chaffa, Chicago Review of Books