In a Cemetery under a Solitary Walnut Tree That Crows

Fady Joudah

had planted and whose seeds are hollow
I found a needle and with itI dug a well
dug and dug until I struck inkThe needle wove fabric for bodies it had injected with song
I painted the well’s walls with quicklime and couldn’t climb outThere was sun there was moonlight that came into my sleep
I stored leaves and bark but rain washed away my wordsA lantern came down on a rope that a girl held
I sent up the part of me that was light

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Fady  Joudah

Fady Joudah has published three previous collections of poems: The Earth in the Attic; Alight, a book-long sequence of short poems composed on a cell phone; and Textu, whose meter is based on cellphone character count. He has translated several collections of poetry from the Arabic. He was a winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition in 2007 and has received a PEN Translation Award, a Banipal/Times Literary Supplement Prize from the UK, the Griffin Poetry Prize, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives in Houston, with his wife and kids, where he practices internal medicine. (Author photo by Cybele Knowles)

In Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance, Fady Joudah has written love poems to the lovely and unlovely, the loved and unloved. Here he celebrates moments of delight and awe with his wife, his mentors, his friends, and the beauty of the natural world. Yet he also finds tenderness for the other, the dead, and the disappeared, bringing together the language of medicine with the language of desire in images at once visceral and vulnerable. A symptomatic moon. A peach, quartered like a heart, and a heart, quartered like a peach. ‘I call the finding of certain things loss.’

“Joudah’s gifts for simultaneous bewilderment, tenderness, rage, and grief are fully alive here. These poems blaze into the visionary.”
—Mary Szybist

“Joudah’s mission is perhaps to spiritualize our minds, and to catch the heart in its deepest modes of thinking, and the outcome is lyric of the highest order.”
—Khaled Mattawa

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