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NATASHA TRETHEWEY
Mexico

Mexico began as an attempt to make sense of a memory that has stayed with me all these years.  As a small child on vacation with my parents, I managed to step off the pool’s edge into deep water before either of them saw what I was doing. I must have been in there only moments, but I have carried with me the image of the sunlight coming in above my head, my mother’s frantic response, and then later—as if it were part of that moment—the sound of water coming from the bathroom and the slant of light on the tiles in our hotel room.  When I began writing the poem I did not know what those images would give way to, nor that—because my mother is no longer alive—I would see in that imagery the blueprint for the loss to come. (Natasha Trethewey) Mexico It always comes back like this:      light streaming in, the sound of water in a basin I know is white               my mother’s footsteps on the tile floor; and the long …

ERIC McHENRY
New Year’s Letter to All the Friends I’ve Estranged by Not Writing

I’m sorry, first of all,for the impersonalmedium. It’s midnight and I’m spreadso thin I just about said spin so thread.Sage came home with a strip of masking tapeacross her lunchbox: PLEASE SLICE EVERY GRAPE.And there again I’ve put a blameless childbetween us like a human shieldagainst accountability, and thenacknowledged it. And there again.As though by self-embarrassment aloneI might regressinto a truer self, becoming smalland solid as the last matryoshka doll;as though that might redressthe failings up to which I’ve failed to own:I’ve identified too closely withmyself, or with my sympathetic myth.I’ve acted as though it were all an act —the first of five — and called the fact the brutal fact and failed to callthe fourth wall a wall.And all while waiting for the world to dropthe dozen of us at a common stopso you could keep me company again,which would require the world to be a train.The world’s a wheel. The world’s a rolling pin.The world is spinning thread and spreading thin.I can’t imagine what this goes to proveexcept the obvious — I’d rather …

Bruce Beasley: “Year’s End Paradoxography”

I had been reading about the ancient literary collections in Latin and Greek called ‘paradoxographies,’ which were assemblages of brief notations of bizarre occurrences considered portentous, bewildering, wonderful, and strange: monstrous births, miraculous weather phenomena, astonishing reports of the barely believable but urgently interpretable events of the world. This poem came to me first through a series of urgent dreams: lines that later made their way into the poem reciting themselves insistently over and over until I woke up and scribbled them down. I found pages the next morning with strange paradoxical fragments and urgent pieces of prophecy and advice scribbled all over them, lines I had forgotten I had dreamed or written down, which seemed paradoxigraphical itself. The poem’s fragments of strangeness came out of those lines. This is the first poem for a manuscript I’m finishing called PARADOX DOXOLOGY that considers the strangenesses and wonders of the turn of the 21st century, from robot public service operators to genetic engineering to mood-altering neurosurgery: a ‘paradoxography’ for the new millennium. (Bruce Beasley) Year’s End …

Fall & Winter 2009-2010

David Biespiel says farewell Natasha Trethewey sits on a mule in Monterrey C. K. Williams remembers the miserable mysteries before Roe v. Wade Kenneth Fields knows “One Love” Also: Mary Jo Salter, Talvikki Ansel, Wendy Willis, W. S. Di Piero, Michael Collier, Christian Wiman, Stanley Plumly, D. A. Powell, & more Read David Biespiel’s commentary: “In your hands is my last issue as editor of this magazine…”