in the flood

“yes of course” was one speech too many
now you’ve done it exposed your
obsequious emphases
                           hardly speech if disclosing nothing
thought to stay blameless in a
well-tended hothouse that’s now
            out of use beyond wear not in your possession
to break out so lay blame on
ritual pronouncements like
                          the unitary root of the whole is torn      
try knitting cozies to hide
your household aporias
                                       a little more than mortal   
how yarn can knit a surface
that will flaunt its absences
                          looking at it as though it were behind you
is how gnats spin a hole in
air & then slip right through it
           caterpillars moles lost limbs
try a little blind reaching
surprising what you can find


Copyright © 2017 by Rusty Morrison. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on June 15, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I’ve been writing about limitation, its frustrations, and the ways that the forces of the unexpected, of excess, can sometimes break up everything I understand, even limits that had begun to feel safe. Because I want to live these experiences in the writing itself, I created a form that demanded I experience these challenges directly—you’ll see that each line in the poem that is my own line is seven syllables in length, but all italicized phrases are quotes from Maurice Blanchot and those do not conform to the other lines’s syllable count—the quotes ‘flood’ out of any constriction of syllabics. I chose the quotes before I began writing this poem, so as to let the unexpected quality of their tonalities disrupt my ways of seeing and saying (reading Blanchot always disrupts me, so I wanted to live that experience in the poems).”
—Rusty Morrison