Suppose the Function Is Praise
When doctors have given their final shot
or volleys rocket insomniac dark, without thought, liftyour hands. In strobing raids, at pepper spray, with cheek
to asphalt, at fault or not, go on, lift your hands. And standthough gravel erodes to sea, don’t grovel or stop
as the chopper kicks sand, or knife unleashes shockand flow—unaided, blood rises—so lift your hands,
given this heart’s un-assisted pump, no matter the lackof water to quench a jigsaw of dirt, the belly distended—lift
your hands at the child unplanned who you cannot nurse,then at the curse of also-ran and lift your hands, when
the only man you’ll ever love has a son with someone else.Or a husband no longer knows the name of the one
you raised together: now, raise a glass instead.This is occasion for champagne, for all the aspirin
a body can take, for the glint of a chemical sunset’s blaze,and licking high-fructose glaze off those same fingers, just—
lift them now in don’t shoot please, in fluid go, to save my feet,at mile sixty when gas burns clean and you’ve made it
past your dead-end streets, with a single albumof soul on repeat—lift your hands, at the great unknown,
the bank account’s mawing O—however infinitesimalthe means become or waist will cinch—infinite—
the ways to lift our hands, to coax them overhead— limitless, our approach.
Copyright © 2017 by Cate Lycurgus
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission
Cate Lycurgus’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Third Coast, Tin House, and elsewhere. A 2014 Ruth Lilly Fellowship finalist, she has received scholarships from Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, and was recently named one of Narrative’s 30 Under 30 Featured Writers. She edits interviews for 32 Poems and teaches professional writing.
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