At Newgrange: The Best Self Is a Tough Sell

By ELIZABETH SCANLON 

County Meath, Ireland, ca. 3200 BC 

 

At Newgrange, they carved spirals into the stone

over and over, though surely a curved line is the most difficult

and time-consuming thing to carve into stone, carving

with another stone, into the long, dark nights that went on for ages,  

and underground, in the earth berm of its domed temple,

they packed the rocks in together, they left only the opening

toward the sky to align with the equinox sun—the entire goal

of the place to harness this one beam they believed would come—

how cold they must have been in their labor.

 

And you begin again, rising every day.

The black moon, it’s called, when only a sliver shows

and the lunar new year begins. It’s the suggestion of seeing

what you cannot see,

slicing open the sky, a sacrifice for the hope

that there will be wholeness. That wrongs will be mended.

There will be food for the goat, who is not picky

but doesn’t eat trash. That’s a myth.

 

The bananas that came in the box off the truck were so green,

such a beautiful poisonous acid green they made me afraid of dying

and I was pissed off immediately at the stupidity of delivery

when really, how bad was it out there?

No one’s their best self in February.

Or maybe someone is, but how would we know?

Who’s making a special trip?

 

The dog would love to get at whatever is in the walls,

whatever that is just wants something to eat. And not to die,

I suppose. Here, have a banana.

 

[Purchase Issue 13 here]

Elizabeth Scanlon is the Editor of The American Poetry Review. She is the author of Lonesome Gnosis, The Brain Is Not the United States/The Brain Is the Ocean, and Odd Regard.

At Newgrange: The Best Self Is a Tough Sell

Related Posts

image of a plastic bag caught in a tree.

Translation: Albanian Women Poets

VLORA KONUSHEVCI
Croatia produces a truly royal confectionary / used on special occasions, although some call / it an Ustasha’s chocolate, made in Zagreb by / widows who fed their wounded husbands / to the hungry war deity in Vukovar. / Bosnia’s cevaps are sinfully delicious.

Image of a statue of a woman wearing a dress in white against a beige background, cover of Ama Codjoe's poetry collection.

September 2022 Poetry Feature: Ama Codjoe—from BLUEST NUDE

AMA CODJOE
When my mother was pregnant, she drove / every night to the Gulf of Mexico. / Leaving her keys and a towel on the shore, / she waded into the surf. Floating / naked, on her back, turquoise waves / hemming her ears, she allowed / the water to do the carrying.

view of valley from mountain

August 2022 Poetry Feature: Nathan McClain—from PREVIOUSLY OWNED

NATHAN MCCLAIN
Had I not chosen to live there— / among the oaks and birches, / trees I’d only ever seen in poems / until then…spruce, pine, / among the jack-in-the-pulpit / (though I much preferred “lady slipper”) / the tiger lily, milkweed, the chickadee / and blue jay, even the pesky squirrel