Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Countdown as Slow Kisses

10. Here on my knees I look for the single animal: you left
                                                   ravaged at the edge of a meadow

9. Is everything accounted for? The fingers dipped
                                     beneath the torso—to keep this body bright

8. Every breath we are desperate to take
                             sounds as if a war lost against a country of promise

7. Discarded halos: the light you remember
                   in your head—you feed on what is crushed between the teeth

6. America declares these dreams I have every night be re-
                                                      dreamed & pressed into names

5. Upended petals of qém’es
                                 abandoned like torn butterfly wings—we’é I pray

4. I pray that nobody
                  ever hears us

3. An eye gone
           bloodshot: I tear through the crisp apple of your throat & find—

2. myself: this—a boy beside a boy. An eyelash
                            fallen at the base of a valley, our dark bones bursting in-

1. to bloom. I stare into your beloved face & enter: yes,
                 yes, this nation, under god, its black sky we lay our nightmares to

0. where I am your animal: my Lamb—now eat
            me alive.

Credit


Copyright © 2019 by Michael Wasson. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 1, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem


"We are given these bodies—full of beauty, ache, and history—and are told to survive. We lean into joy and marvel, into our living, and yet we know that what we desire ultimately devours us. Might we surrender as we climax toward our gorgeous, unbearable ruin? This poem says yes."
Michael Wasson

Author


Michael Wasson

Michael Wasson is Nimíipuu from the Nez Perce Reservation in Lenore, Idaho. He earned a BA from Lewis-Clark State College and an MFA from Oregon State University. The author of Swallowed Light (Copper Canyon Press, 2021), Self-Portrait with Smeared Centuries (Éditions des Lisières, 2018), translated by Beatrice Machet, and This American Ghost (YesYes Books, 2017), Wasson is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship, a Native Arts & Cultures Foundation National Artist Fellowship in Literature, the Adrienne Rich Award for Poetry, and others. He currently lives in Japan. 

Date Published: 2019-11-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/countdown-slow-kisses