Build me a house of light,stretches of emptiness glaringinto an open sky callingthe colors in; but mostlythe white light that consumesshadows, that turns this bodyof riverbed brown into somethingtransparent like an ochre-colored piece of cotton flappingin the air; build me a houseof new light, the daily whisperof dialects crawling acrossthe cedar and tamarindwoods; build me a housewhere the rain beads the glasspanes over us, the fragilemembrane separatingus from the chaosof the other side; furnishour cabin with the whiteand sepia brown of things—the dull pewter of ancientlead; the gleam of decanters,hundreds of them, liningthe walls; build methe house for my mustyeyes; the house wherefaces, illuminated, revealthemselves to be familiaras a plain book of poemsopened out—call it splayed—on the table, my desk,the scene of such terrible crimes.
Copyright © 2021 by Kwame Dawes
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Kwame Dawes is the author of twenty-two books of poetry and numerous other books of fiction, criticism, and essays. His collection, Nebraska was published in 2019. Dawes is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His awards include an Emmy, the Forward Poetry Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the PEN/Nora Magid Award and the prestigious Windham Campbell Prize for Poetry. In 2021, Kwame Dawes was named Editor of American Life in Poetry and was nominated for the Neustadt Prize for his 1995 epic poem, Prophets, which was re-released by Peepal Tree Press in 2018. In December, 2021, the audio performance of Prophets was released at audible.com featuring Kwame Dawes and Jamaican actor, Paula-Anne Porter Jones.
The Southern Indiana Review presents a cross-section of emerging and established artists and writers whose work is both regional and national in scope and degree of recognition. With the support of the Indiana Arts Commission and National Endowment for the Arts, SIR is published in October and May by the University of Southern Indiana and sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts.