Editor’s note: In this week’s Poetry Corner, we feature the work of Monica Youn. Her second poetry collection, “Ignatz” (Four Way Books) is a finalist for the 2010 National Book Award. She lives in New York City, where she is an attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. She is a past recipient of the Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress. Poems from “Ignatz” by Monica Youn (c)2010. Reprinted by permission of Four Way Books. All rights reserved.
A gauze bandage wraps the land
and is unwound, stained orange with sulfates.
A series of slaps molds a mountain,
a fear uncoils itself, testing its long
cool limbs. A passing cloud
seizes up like a carburetor
and falls to earth, lies broken-
backed and lidless in the scree.
Acetylene torches now snug
in their holsters, shop-vacs
trundled back behind the dawn.
A mist becomes a murmur, becomes
a moan rising from dust-choked
fissures in the rocks O pity us
Ignatz O come to us by moonlight
O arch your speckled body over the earth.
Star-maps of broken capillaries:
crown of infrared
song of drifting dune
The smooth-boled trees of his interior
blossoming and unblossoming:
“I spent six days almost touching you.”
Then one day she noticed the forest had started to bleed into her waking life.
There were curved metal plates on the trees to see around corners.
She thought to brush her hand against his thigh.
She thought to trace the seam of his jeans with her thumbnail.
The supersaturated blues were beginning to pixillate around the edges, to become a kind of grammar.
Soot amassed in drifts in the corners of the room.
She placed a saucer of sugar water under her lamp and counted mosquitoes as they drowned.
A soft brown dot loomed large in her concern.
She pressed her thumb into the hollow of his throat for a while and then let him go.