It flickers on my mother’s face.
The light is blue and brief: a nature showwhere glaciers, time-lapsed, blossoming,
melt in seconds and a thousand years at once.I wonder if she sees moraines, fields of silt,
boulders like half-chiseled monuments.She’s barely watching now, almost asleep,
and I see her from a helicopter’s height:drifting down the slope of years, each hesitating inch.
I wonder if she sees the ice, how its crevassesdeepen like aging skin, the way it flowers
in the same cold blip of light that breaks it.
Copyright © 2018 by Matthew Sumpter
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
Matthew Sumpter’s poems have appeared in the New Yorker, New Republic, Best New Poets 2014, Ninth Letter, 32 Poems, Boulevard, and many other journals. A group of five poems won the Crab Orchard Review Special Issues Feature Award, and his fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train. He currently teaches academic and creative writing at Rutgers University.
“The portraits, elegies, and landscapes in Public Land illuminate these pages with flashes of shadow and uncharted landscapes of electric, existential honesty. In tensile and subtle verse, Matt Sumpter deftly embraces the rhythms of language and emotional experience, gifting us a poetry that, like the forests our speaker turns and returns to, harbors the most ineffable of growth…. This is vital, arresting work by a singular voice, and I know that I will turn and return to these poems in years to come.”
—Lo Kwa Mei-en
“Matthew Sumpter is a poet of the earth and the wounds of the earth. His poems are marked by a deep involvement with America, and its sons and fathers. I admire their perspicuous beauty at a level of language. I admire their alertness to the secret vibrations between us. A remarkable first book.”