by Zachary Hatfield
Dear world: there is an image from my past. Through
grimy blinds I see a girl with an ankh on her wrist as she plants
molars in the yard. She must be just eleven
or twelve, a couple years older than me.
It is December. It is five in the evening. A broken oath
of sunlight spills over her as she empties armfuls of twilit
teeth into the ground: cavity in cavity. They are
wisdom teeth & so she expects something wise
to grow, some rooted twin, a brother would be worth
But nothing grows. I never knew her name but it seems
a palindrome: Hannah, Anna, Aziza.
Or maybe Eve. I still go back there in Decembers,
when slaughtered stars kiss queasily in the bright black;
often my knees buckle from time’s debt, it’s true:
these stars explain me; I learn their light.
Dear world: sometimes eagle fly here. I imagine stuffing their
plumage in my childhood pillow, the feathers—often
they resemble nothing, sometimes gray blades dipped
in African sky. In these moments when wings throw themselves
forward I can feel a burglary
inside me, something in the eaves escaping & the memory of
the girl who held songs of teeth is dim, furred with dust
& too-loved. Embraced in an oak is a kite of fire, this world’s left
to shatter. When it is dark & the day is still only a rumor, & although
I have forgotten where they are buried, I begin to dig.
For the dumb hurt, the unborn wisdom, the enamel jewels.
But for the hunger too.
University & College Poetry Prizes Page