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Camille Rankine

Camille Rankine is the author of Incorrect Merciful Impulses (Copper Canyon Press, 2015). She is a visiting assistant professor at The New School, and lives in New York City.

By This Poet

3

Forecast

I twist myself into a knot
the day pulls taut.

I am what I am
told. Good red meat

gone necrotic. A spot of black
spread out to ruin

a perfect evening. It’s the way
the weather wears me.

A cold, blank day. My blood-
burned fingers. A white noise

swelling in me. It’s nothing
but night now. That’s how

all the days end. An hour
glistens in its glass case, turns

rancid in my memory.
Another day, another

dress the day lays out
before me. I grow older

if I’m lucky.
And I’m lucky.

My sad heart in its excess.
Such petty injury. I am worn

against the weather. Limp and prone
to empty.

What came before this.
I can’t remember.

I dress for all the lives I want
behind me. I have come here

to make seen the day
I see. I fall from focus.

The day goes sour. It asks me
nothing. It asks nothing of me.
 

Aubade

They say brave but I don’t want it.
Who will we mourn today. Or won’t we.

Black all the windows. Lower
down the afternoon. I barricade

all my belonging. I am mostly never real
American or anything

availing. But I do take. And take
what’s given. The smell of blood.

I breathe it in. The dirt so thick with our good
fortune. And who pays for it. And what am I

but fear, but wanting. I’ll bite
the feeding hand until I’m fed

and buried. In the shining day.
All deadly good

intentions. A catalogue of virtues.
This is how I’ll disappear.

Inheritance

What have I

To say in my wrong tongue

Of what is gone   To know something is

Lost but what   You have forgotten what

You long forgot   If I am 

What survives   I am here but I am not

Much of anything at all   To be what’s left 

And all the rest scooped out 

And dropped into the sea   My flesh

Forming a knot on itself is a habit

Learned from whom   A mind reaching back

Into the dark a body releasing itself

Backward into space a faith

I have no prayer in which to keep

Am I home or merely caught

Between two unmarked graves

I’m saying where we live

 It’s a mistake   A compromise 

I’m made to make   

I’m told come willingly 

Halfway across a bridge to where

I’m halfway human   Or else 

A door bricked over 

Behind which all I am   

To be shadow cast by shadows cast

By no one’s hand   And now

Whose fault am I   It’s said 

I stand against the grain

Of natural law   A being in chaos

In argument with itself   What would it be

To be simply   I am here but what of me 

That’s gone stays gone