November 28, 2009

Hannah Craig

SAVING FOR SLEEP

Night’s pitch-rolled on a deck of blight,
and hands, they call, all hands aboard.
Here’s the rigging of a dream—
you, and you, and a naked girl
before a throne of apples, gardens. A sway
in the sail—here we are, the boat
of my room, the belly, the bone stern
and prow. These gulls above me, heading south.

Oysters play cuckold to the beams,
pitch fostered to every knot and seam. The give-out-give-in
of cider press, the bellows honking incessantly.
Listen, I will make you a fisher
of men, if you follow me. The lines play out;

your hammy fist, rib-cage
catching the butt-end and bruised, the full
body of you above, swaying in earnest,
the rip-tide yanking down, the silver
scanting of your prey. I say the good hang on
long past their useful days.
Here’s the dive, the dark-skinned boys of sleep
with fistfuls of pearl, with fistfuls of deep, deep.

Now say this is my body and mean it.
Not the dark room and sailors, not a platter
of maggot and bread. Just an arm, here,
a figurehead, and you on the deck,
hauling in your catch.

from Rattle #22, Winter 2004

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Hannah Craig: “Yesterday, while reading the newspaper, I saw a photo of a big-eyed youngster reading a book. The caption underneath read ‘… opens his eyes wide.’ I think that’s what reading poetry does for me … it teaches me to keep my eyes wide open. To pay attention. As Lorca writes in his City That Does Not Sleep, ‘If someone does close his eyes / a whip, boys, a whip! / Let there be a landscape of open eyes …’” (website)