The Poem Grace Interrupted
There once was a planet who was both sick and beautiful. Chemicals rode through her that she did not put there. Animals drowned in her eyeballs that she did not put there— animals she could not warn against falling in because she was of them, not separable from them. Define sick, the atmosphere asked. So she tried: she made a whale on fire somehow still swimming and alive. See? she said. Like that, kind of. But the atmosphere did not understand this, so the planet progressed in her argument. She talked about the skin that snakes shed, about satellites that circled her like suitors forever yet never said a word. She talked about the shyness of large things, how a blueberry dominates the tongue that it dies on. She talked and talked and the atmosphere started nodding— you could call this a revolution, or just therapy. Meanwhile the whale spent the rest of his life burning (etc., etc., he sang a few songs). When he finally died his body, continuing to burn steadily, drifted down to the ocean floor. And although the planet had long since forgotten him—he was merely one of her many examples—he became a kind of god in the eyes of the fish that saw him as he fell. Or not a god exactly, but at least something inexplicable. Something strange and worth briefly turning your face toward.
Copyright © 2019 by Mikko Harvey. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 22, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“I wrote this poem while walking down the street one night in midtown Manhattan. Being at the base of all those tall buildings somehow turned my imagination planetary. I think the poem shows just a few links in a chain of accidents: somebody hurts somebody else while trying to heal herself, somebody becomes an idol to others who don’t understand his particular hurt, and the atmosphere nods along acceptingly; the type of little chain that probably happens every day among children on playgrounds at recess.”
Mikko Harvey is the author of Unstable Neighbourhood Rabbit (House of Anansi, 2018).
Date Published: 2019-03-22
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/poem-grace-interrupted