Archival Features, Poems

May Swenson: “Let Us Prepare”

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Let Us Prepare

+to get beyond the organic
++for surely there is something else
+++to which it is an impediment an opaque pod
++++What if it is sight that blinds
+++++hearing that deafens
++++++touch that makes us numb?
+++++++What if trussed in a jacket of blood
++++++++to a rack of bone we smother
+++++++++in the dungeon of our lungs?
++++++++++Today we are in our brain
+++++++++++a laboratory
++++++++++++Must we be here
+++++++++++++tomorrow?
++++++++++++++Are there not
+++++++++++++++pinnacles
++++++++++++++++on which to stand
+++++++++++++++cleanly
++++++++++++++without a head?
+++++++++++++Between the belly
++++++++++++of the sun and the belly
+++++++++++of the world
++++++++++must we bounce forever
+++++++++magnetized generations of the circle?
++++++++Let us eat nothing but darkness
+++++++refuse our stale orbit
++++++and walk only in sleep
+++++there to descry a crack in the future
++++and work to widen it
+++Let us prepare to bare ourselves outside the gibbet-hood
++of the world
+without excuse of flesh or apology of blood

“Let Us Prepare” was published with four other poems by Swenson in the Winter 1962-63 issue of Poetry Northwest. Her bio from that issue reads:

May Swenson had three poems in our wall-to-wall women’s issue, Volume I, Number 3 (in honor of Ruth Pitter); these fabulous five are from her book, To Mix with Time: New and Selected Poems, published by Scribner’s this month.