Devotion

By ELIZABETH SCANLON

 

Your mother is a creep.
Everyone’s mother is a creep;
we have envelopes of your teeth in our bedside drawers,
clippings of your hair. We check your browser history.
Listen to your footsteps in the night back and forth to the bathroom,
listen even harder if you’re in there too long.
The self is a recent construct, relatively;
a hundred years ago there were far fewer
ways to say mine. Your clothes we sniff.
Try to guess what you want for dinner,
what you had for lunch.
In the I and Thou model, all meaning stems from relationships,
the other the stand-in for the God, who is always absent.
We try to take your picture when you’re not looking.
Every thing we warn you about,
we are.

 

[Purchase Issue 21 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.

Devotion

Related Posts

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

Park Bench

Translation: Poems by Juan de Dios García

JUAN DE DIOS GARCÍA
He speaks to us of Finnish lakes, of a dialect populated by birds and fruit, of high wooded hills, perpetual snow, a petroleum sky. “In the north they’re raised on melancholy,” he says, “and their dead weigh more than those from here.” He speaks of a Greek father and a war.

car crash

July 2022 Poetry Feature

ZACK STRAIT
Like two passengers / in a wrecked automobile: // our eyes are fixed / on the sonogram screen— // an upside-down window / with no wiper blade // to sweep away the rain— / as the technician // inserts a long probe / and whispers, Come on. // Come on. The storm / approaches slow...