Monday Sep 25

HogueCynthia Cynthia Hogue has published twelve books, including Or Consequence, When the Water Came: Evacuees of Hurricane Katrina (interview-poems with photographs by Rebecca Ross ), and the co-translated Fortino Sámano (The overflowing of the poem), by Virginie Lalucq and Jean-Luc Nancy (Omnidawn, 2012). Among her honors are a Fulbright Fellowship, an NEA, and the Witter Bynner Translation Fellowship. Her eighth collection of poetry, Revenance, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2014. She is the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry in the Creative Writing Program at Arizona State University. Visit her website here. Links to purchase her books may be found here: Omnidawn; Red Hen Press


Elegy with Boulder

No trees. At dusk, seven deer caught in silhouette. Beside them, the boulder that was my father, large as a town, discrete, a hillock, grass-mired, granite shoved through basalt. I stood in its shadow, nearing it then stopping. My hands felt along a surface I couldn’t see, as if glass barred me from touching it. Above me, a vaulting midnight space struck with feathers of clouds. They’d dynamited the boulder the week before. Nothing moved it. Equipment broke. Eventually, they built the road around the boulder. I thought I’d find a door if I tarried. My hands moved in circles wider and wider seeking sides like walls in a room. No sides or entrance. Certainly, no way.

The Place of Feelings

We enter the compound as foreigners alien to its presence the compound empty of others in our tour and the others who once lived in the narrow open cubicles with thin walls on which fastened short slabs of beds people could not sleep on, cramped, riddled with lice, coughing and breathless as those who, punched, cannot breathe. Everything’s been cleaned, little plaques of history now so many old stories the eyes narrow. They’re here, my friend says, I feel them their sorrow’s relentless, and relentlessly she’s shaking, shaken, feeling them. I feel nothing. No. I see nothing but I can feel how there was no mercy that hearts burst and cannot be quieted.

Elegy with Lake

The lake’s marine-blue,
with little whitecaps from wind.
A small granite outcrop borders
the shore (the lake has no beach).
There’s no swimming on this day
or at least in this scene, which is true
in simple detail. Tell me a story from your life,
my dead father asks (he can still speak in poems),

but to say so I add his voice
addressing me,
and now remove it.
Everything shifts:
That day I could swim with my father.
From the rock where I sat, the lake was deep, its water like ink.
I wanted to swim. I always swam. I thought to swim
with my father but he stayed in the boat.

In truth he wasn’t there because he hated the water.
Has everything changed
with the declaration of fact? Voice,
mood—the addition
of someone who is not at all
the sum of a million such moments, like nothing, or nothing more.
This, my father says, was my good fortune, but in another time, and at a lake
that ineffably persists, call it The Lake of Happily, in which I dipped my foot, dove.