I Defer a Second Opinion
The light unevenly gray beyond the triple-pane:maybe neglected, or itself, self-filtering.Obscuring as it crystals into existence, as itopaques the hoar on the fence & bract to branchof all my trees. Our yard, my debt. Unpruned lilac,two liability spruce to the north, the ostentatioussprawl of crabapple once fertile next-door—then storm-felled, now thrust into the yarrowas it overgrows our bed. A triplet of rowan.Then sour, then choke-cherry.Not least, two or five cedar.Cottonwood & aspen & an alder hellI squalled predictably into the right-of-way.A birch I see almost too much to name.Black spruce, too.You don't havea personality disorder,said she, a good doctor—but one of three womenof color licensedto practice psychiatryin the State of Alaska—between guffaws. Anotherin Fairbanks, & what useis she to me, so far away,probably overbooked& kind enough to do what she would.To see me as (a) patient, to prescribewhatever I will take for whatevershe happens to think she might fix or,for now, temporarily stay. I see the darkhorizon in the west. It rhymes with nothing.Nothing, you see.
“I Defer A Second Opinion” from Dark Traffic by Joan Naviyuk Kane, © 2021.
All rights controlled by the University of Pittsburg Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260.
Used by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Joan Naviyuk Kane’s most recent book is Dark Traffic. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writer’s Award, an American Book Award, the United States Artists Creative Vision Award, the Donald Hall Prize, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation National Artist Fellowship, and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute, the Rasmuson Foundation, the School for Advanced Research, and Brown’s Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race in America. A lecturer in the department of Race, Colonialism and Diapsora at Tufts, she also teaches creative writing at Harvard, Tufts, and the Institute of American Indian Arts.
"A brutal and beautiful book whose poems strain the lyric through concrete and confessional modes, translation, and unforgettable evocations of land and people burdened with—but not defined by—the legacies of colonial atrocity. Dark Traffic is a ravishing achievement—one of our best poets, at the height of her powers."
—Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood
"Oscillating between presence and absence, mother, daughter, woman, inhabiting the ‘rift into language and grit,’ Kane reveals the ways we are made and unmade and made again. Dark Traffic is the poet at her most vulnerable—and most powerful."
—Abigail Chabitnoy, author of How to Dress a Fish
"Whether by intellect shot through with feeling, or feeling sharp with intellect, Joan Naviyuk Kane’s Dark Traffic is a vigorous account of [Cold War] communication systems, complicity, and [self] inquiry. Rich with experimentation and a clear ethic of attentiveness, Dark Traffic is an indomitable, resonant book."
—Shara Lessley, author of The Explosive Expert’s Wife