from “all along it was a fever: a what poem”


The hard edge of historical light, it waits up for us
all night. Here’s one brutal but apparently
necessary historical bargain: I said that the energy
between you and the person next
to you is truer than it is real. This is not a randomly
existing fact. It’s a collectively and intelligently and menacingly
cultivated feature of our lives. Fugitive fact.
This puts you both—puts
us all—in peril, yes, but protects that energy between us.
If it were the other way, if that living thing between
us had become more—even as—real as it is
true we’d be more protected than we are
but that thing, that sacred being
-between would be endangered. The intelligence
of collective action knows, somehow, that that
kind of security is far more dangerous—the kind of danger
people become to themselves, then to each other,
the kind they become to each other, then to themselves—
than the peril in which we stand now. That’s a hard
historical edge to stand near, real talk, that’s the broken
back of a mother—black—skipped across a wit-quick crack in the sidewalk. 


Copyright © 2019 by Ed Pavlić. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 8, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“‘All Along It Was A Fever’ is a long sequence of poems that begins my next book, ‘Let It Be Broke.’ The parts of our lives that live in the spaces between us have been under attack. The lives we live in each other’s perceptions—in each other’s imaginations—are real lives. No one owns them, and they are targeted. I believe our culture has conducted a genocidal program against those between-us lives, all of them; that genocidal pressure has been especially acute when aimed at those lives lived astraddle borders between accepted categories of identity. This section meditates on one small dynamic in our lives that explains how we’ve survived that pressure in so far as some of us seem to have survived.”
Ed Pavlić