Poem of the Week | February 02, 2015

This week we’re delighted to feature another poem from our new winter issue 37.4. Sarah Giragosian is a poet living in Hartford, CT and a lecturer in English at Bridgewater State University. Her poetry manuscript Queer Fish won the 2014 American Poetry Journal Book Prize and will be published in the summer of 2015 by Dream Horse Press. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Crazy horse, Copper Nickel, Blackbird, and Ninth Letter Online, among others.

Author’s Note:

For me, the first step in developing a more sustainable relationship with the earth and the creatures around me begins with an awareness of my own involvement in the ecological crisis. This poem reflects my own ethical crisis: how do I negotiate my identities as a human and animal; an American consumer who is complicit in the exploitation of the land and the poor; a modern subject who “misses” the earth-based knowledge of her ancestors; and a creature animated by and burdened with physical hungers and desires? In “All at Sea,” I was working with familiar metaphors: the earth as mother, the body as consumer, and combining them with atavistic memory, evolutionary theory, and myth.


All at Sea


I am not blameless
living off of my mother’s belly.
I know my thirst
and I know my crimes.
I know yours.


But do you remember—in your dreams—
our emergent bodies ghosting below the sea line?
Remember how we learned from the stinging flowers,
the viruses, the cetacean songs
that echoed below the ice-sheeted earth?
I miss those songs still,
how we thrilled in somatic reply
from body to body, to wave after wave.


Do you remember the coastlines
and their riches before we branched forth limbs
and stood ashore, our infant knees trembling forth?
And can you dream her up as she was then
before our fatal bloom across her giving breast?


They say the sea is a mirror.
Look, and there we are:
a fluke, a dying kind. And our mother now?
She is there, shrunken, sagging,
shocked by our overhandling
and the banquet we hold across the spine
of her back.


Like you, I am a monster of desire,
and when I drink her in, I taste my grave.
I have maimed her to the core.
But her logic of mercy is neat:
when I thirst for the last time,
mother will be a yielding desert,
and I shall suck her bones dry.