March 15, 2016

Catherine Pond

MARCH 9TH, DUSK

I wear my loneliness lightly, like a little plastic
poncho. In the evening when the park clears out,
the moon swells, mercurial. I am on medicine
for the visions, and so that I will not obsessively
check the news and the weather, as I have done
for the past 22 years. Sometimes the medicine works
and sometimes it doesn’t. The fact remains
that it’s warmer than ever: 76 degrees today
in Central Park. A silver maple burns beneath
the bridge. A sailboat comes apart in the pond.
Yesterday, a boy with a name like a poet
was stabbed to death in a spree in Jaffa.
We hear about him because he is American.
I imagine him crumpled on a staircase
above the Mediterranean, face-down
on the soapstone steps, like Maria Hassabi
mid-dance. Does it matter who did it?
Picture the sea from the top of the stairs,
pouring out beneath his body. When asked
about Mahmoud Darwish, Yehuda Amichai
said he did not agree with his politics,
but conceded that they shared a sea, a desert,
and a deep hatred of the other’s ideals.
We are, he admitted, writing almost the same
poems. Poetry becomes more popular
in times of crisis. By this logic I should be thrilled
to learn that herpes causes Alzheimers,
lead is seeping into the water supply
in Newark, and Zika continues to spread
in Brazil. Picture the sea from the top
of the stairs, pouring out beneath his body.
The American’s last name was FORCE,
like how you took me one night, gently, then violently,
the hard push into tomorrow a thin veil
for love. But now that you’re here, why not
take my heart. Sandstone, stuffed full
of letters, jammed and trampled and fortified
as the Western Wall. Go on. It’s the smallest corner
with the highest stakes. We’ll die soon
anyway. I’m giving it to you to take.

Poets Respond
March 15, 2016

[download audio]

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Catherine Pond: “My poem is responding to the death of Taylor Force, the American who was stabbed in Jaffa, Israel, on March 8th. The poem also addresses climate change and the soaring temperatures in NYC this week, as well as making mention of a few other news events, including the opening of Maria Hassabi’s exhibit, ‘Plastic,’ at MoMa this week. In attempting to address the continued trauma of the Israeli-Palestinean conflict, I hope to emphasize the common links that connect us all. Mahmoud Darwish was the Palestinean National Poet, and Yehuda Amichai is widely considered Israel’s best modern poet. I’m fascinated by the work of both of these great poets, and by their dynamic as contemporaries (although Amichai was about 20 years Darwish’s senior).” (website)