This early nobody will speak to me, & by early I mean late: with the lavender covers pulled up to my ribs & doubled for warmth I have chills & I feel in my fingertips that I am stranded, indisposed, or indiscreet. My thighs are too large in my bed & my sun too small, a stray earring, a headache pill, & if I have grown too it is only because I can contain whoever I used to be & never will be, times 2, times 3. I lie back down in rowboat vertigo on an up-and-down, nowhere-fast, infinitesmal cytoplasmic sea. Dawn takes off far below. I would like to be one of the beautiful termites who eat everything outside themselves, work together & know the difference between me & not me; instead I dream I am an entomologist, keeping so still with my thin translucent gloves & magnifying glass inadvertently brought home from AP biology, afraid to see what I could also burn, or just afraid to learn.
Tiara Syndrome Stephanie
If the root of poetry is humiliation,
a wound that the world (without sorcery) cannot make good,
what does the root do to hide itself from the made tree?
What is the root of mystery?
What is the difference between a cry of pain and a cry of pain,
and how I do figure out how to pick up enough sense to come in out of the rain?
I shall stand in it this afternoon, letting my cotton T-shirt soak through,
right into my shorts, right down my new white tights and the rain boots beneath them, a cry for help,
delighted not to be dissolving, not to be made
of sugar and flour, keeping the dirt off my cheeks,
Stephen (sometimes Stephanie) Burt is a Professor of English at Harvard. Stephen’s books of poetry include Belmont (2013) and Parallel Play (2006); of criticism, The Art of the Sonnet (with David Mikics, 2010) and Close Calls with Nonsense (2009).