at Length


—Christina Davis

I wake thru past tenses of my person.

I come thru cave-
walls of me and what I was

before language said,

and words came out of their tombs
to talk to me.


I cannot guess what you are

with child
with, or I am with
child with.

Earth comes out of its cribs to walk
with me, in breezes

brought single-filedly
thru forests, thru harps of fur
and smashed atoms
of the deer-corpse and grasses

that wear our mother-
father names.


I do not give to this coming from farness
the one-face. I do not say “god”
to interfere the farness. I will not have a spire

except it be the standing
up of a man
or a woman in the day

or a tree in the coming
up its self of itself.


I am the body here, for the ones buried.
I am the pleasure-now, for the pain-then.

I do not come in the posture
of apology. I am
from the immense testament
of Shakespeare,

from the boycott at the back of the bus,
and fallout from what is done by fingers,
I am from the spelling of water by fingers

in the palm of
Helen’s hand.


Water comes out of its bodies to brief me
on the construction of bridges

I had thought we had crossed over
but it was only our boundaries advanced.

If I am only a seam, proving our apartness,
I am a seam. I am where the skull healed too
soon into descriptions of the ceiling.
I do not think our minds should be so many
descriptions of a ceiling.

You do not have, or I,
an antonym or ever shall.


The human-kind has called me


has rated everything on the scale of


Has tried sending me to one
of its rooms, tried telling me
to separate sleep.
I have heard its homing stories
singing each to each.


Already the day
crying out
its conscriptions.

Already the news giving birth to such deaths
as we did not know lived.

It occupies me: this errand out of narrowness.

These plans we make in the absence of a casket.

Thru self to arrive
at selves and thru selves
the self again—

I go to meet the next person
in Septembers of my body.

Christina Davis is the author of An Ethic (Nightboat Books, 2013) and Forth A Raven (Alice James Books, 2006). Her poems and essays have appeared in the American Poetry ReviewBoston Review, JubilatPoetry MagazineParis Review and other publications. She is the recipient of the Witter Bynner Award from the Library of Congress and residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the Dora Maar House in France. She currently serves as curator of the Woodberry Poetry Room, Harvard University, and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.