Woman, I wish I didn't know your name. What could you be? Silence in my house & the front yard where the dogwood wouldn't make up its mind about flowers. Aren't you Nature? A stem cringing, half- shadowed beneath a torque of rain. I too am leaving. I too am half-spun. The other day near the river I bent down & Narcissus turned his immaculate mouth away, refusing to caress my howls. Silence in the trees all around the shotgun house & that scent of cedar whenever I dream. I turn the light around on the ground, sweeping the red mud, holding the light like a rattler. Like a hood of poison, fitted over my face. Cobra woman, slicked with copperhead flutes. I too am fleeing. My face born in a caul of music. Bravado. The men come into the yard & pull all my clothes off, walk me into the house, into my own kitchen. Tell me not to say say I'm wrong.
Copyright © 2011 by Rachel Eliza Griffiths. Used with permission of the author.
Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Rachel Eliza Griffiths is a poet, visual artist, and novelist. Her hybrid collection of poetry and photography, Seeing the Body (W.W. Norton), was published in 2020.
Other poetry collections by Griffiths include Lighting the Shadow (Four Way Books, 2015), The Requited Distance (Sheep Meadow Press, 2011), Mule & Pear (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2011), and Miracle Arrhythmia (Willow Books, 2010).
Also a visual artist, Griffiths is the creator of Poets on Poetry (P.O.P), an intimate series of interviews, which gathers more than fifty contemporary poets together in conversation to discuss poetry in relation to individual human experience and culture.
Griffiths is a recipient of fellowships including Cave Canem, Kimbilio, Millay Colony, Vermont Studio Center, Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and Yaddo. Her forthcoming debut novel, Promise, will be published by Random House. Griffiths was the guest editor for Poem-a-Day in February 2021, and she lives in New York City.
Seeing the Body (W. W. Norton, 2020)
Lighting the Shadow (Four Way Books, 2015)
Mule & Pear (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2011)
The Requited Distance (The Sheep Meadow Press, 2011)
Miracle Arrhythmia (Willow Books, 2010)
Date Published: 2011-08-24
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/verguenza