I see a shadow at the edge of everything, dear friend, I see a darkness, anhinga with its ink wings wide. Some mornings the world smells of ocean, others of rust. Some mornings the sun rises an inferno, others demon blue. The earth is blue like an orange, writes Éluard. I’d say that in French but my tongue is too cold. Some days no one even lives there. You, dear friend, are solar joy, your heart a yellow dwarf star, its blaze the past, the future. The dawn breaking through a necklace of windows. Wasp blooming green, you say. Leaves like wings. Well, I should listen, I know. Me, the left atrium of my heart like broken furniture, like the drum in my skull. We are independent planets. That’s the truth of it. But today I’ll take your word. Today, I’ll sit and let you feed me, section by section, a single perfect orange, ecstatic as any convulsing sun. Proof we have not lost the art of kindness. Proof simplicity repeats itself. Proof all I need is light.
Jesse Lee Kercheval is a poet, writer, and translator. Her latest books include the poetry collection, I Want to Tell You and the anthology Flores raras: Escondido país, one hundred years of Uruguayan women poets, which was just published in Montevideo with editions forthcoming in Chile, Argentina and Spain. Her other recent books include the poetry collections America that island off the coast of France (Tupelo Press, 2019), winner of the Dorset Prize and La crisis es el cuerpo (Editorial Bajo la luna, Argentina, 2020). Her translations include Love Poems by Idea Vilariño, which was long listed for the PEN Best Translated Poetry Book Award, and The Invisible Bridge: Selected Poems of Circe Maia, for which she was awarded an NEA in Translation. She is the Zona Gale Professor Emerita of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Editor of the Wisconsin Poetry Series at the University of Wisconsin Press