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The Poems of Priscilla Becker

ae_poetryEditor’s notes: In this week’s Poetry Corner, we feature the work of Priscilla Becker’s second book of poems, “Stories That Listen,” which is newly out from Four Way Books. Her poems have appeared in Fence, Open City, The Paris Review, Boston Review, American Poetry Review, Verse, and The Swallow Anthology of New American Poets, among others. She teaches poetry at Pratt Institute, Columbia University, and in her apartment.

NUMBERLESS HAND SERIES

I thought of a paralysis

a stiffening of the ligaments

so that the hand looked

in a shock. At first I only

mourned the loss of curl

around my coffee cup, the warmth

within my palm.

But soon I thought of other

horror, and also of the way that it

occurs—in increments, a segment

here or there.

I’ve never seen it whole.

 

BLUE STATUARY

The songs wore out; they rusted

the radio. The singers began to die.

I left my toenails at the beach, hoping

they would grow another body.

I would return with a better,

more expressive face.

I loved it when you said my name.

When you didn’t, I listened

to the sounds the world made.

The trees especially injured me,

though they wouldn’t have known.

When the wind arrives, it upsets them.

I would return with sand in my hair.

The silence, I expected.

 

WORDS ABOVE A POEM

If I tell another

language, watch its

blonde eyebrows quake, its

impassive face

My simple phrases, rudimentary

hands pointing away

You will think

I can be fooled

I chose a mountain

place. Mineral cures, mine

baths, vapor caves.

I speak in fog

 

RETRACTION OF VOW

It’s easier now, removed

from the temporary

scaffolding of your bones

besides, there was something

unreliable and I never walked

entirely below. It is an average day,

perhaps a birthday of someone

neither young nor old

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