We Look Up To The Sun With Our Eyes Too Stunned To Bear It

March 12, 2018

|Cultura Colectiva
poem by robin myers



Robin Myers is a young poet and translator from New York, currently living in Mexico City. For her, writing a poem is like an itch that comes "sometimes like a line, sometimes an image, sometimes just a nebulous question or concern or juxtaposition". If we can learn something from Myers' work, it's the fact that poetry can help us understand life itself.



poem by robin myers 1



OUT OF THE RIVER


Ashed embers like the flank of a molten fish.

I see my own soul trampling down what it ask’d for.

Outside, silver light, the fields flattened, December.

I remember Jerusalem. Jerusalem, Arkansas. Jerusalem,

Ohio. Jerusalem, Maryland, New York, Lincolnshire,

New Zealand. In 1929, you write me from the library,

hunched into the microfilm, Uncle Tom was shown

by popular demand at Ofer Cinema in Tel Aviv,

followed by a sequence of beautiful nature landscapes.

Today I woke up, switched on the boiler, and went

back to bed, as is your custom. With the house to myself,

the hours become objects to take in my hands and

learn the contours of. When I step outside the ugliness

is so shattering / it has become dear to me. A man

in the old city stands in the doorway of his clothing shop

and shouts “Hello! Hello! No business! One thousand

dollars!” The landlady asks when you’ll be back. I haven’t

learned how to say Sunday, so I say tomorrow. No,

she corrects me. Not tomorrow. Sunday. Meters from

the checkpoint is a truck that has crashed onto its side,

vast and crippled as a beached whale. In 1929,

Lawrence, you write me, as in of Arabia, remains a bachelor

after refusing his twenty-eighth marriage proposal

since the end of the Great War. The sweat rises

from our bodies in the sun, which makes us seek

the shade, which makes us crane toward the sun

with our eyes too stunned to bear it. God bless

you, ornery host, amateur astronomer, shrooming

old bear in your green towel. Bless you, kittens starving

in the cinderblocks behind the house, and you, owner

of the Bahamas Seafood Restaurant beaming the World

Cup across the Wall’s nearest face. I wish to God

I had made this world, this scurvy / And disastrous place.

I didn’t, I can’t bear it / Either, I don’t blame you. You

read Hannah Arendt on the couch, your feet splayed

over the arms as if waiting for a mother to object.

In 1929, the Palestinian police choir seeks men who play

the first clarinet and the bass trombone. Paint dust

snows onto everything we own. Sometimes we drive

along the dense, starless roads of the Galilee, quiet,

and I know it’s because no language can get out, or in.

A hulking sixteen-year-old boy holds his mother’s

incisions open for the surgeon by day, settling onto

our bony couch by night. A man says to Banksy, “You

make the wall look beautiful.” “Thank you,” says Banksy.

The man says, “We hate this wall. We don’t want it

to look beautiful. Go home.” Sometimes I feel like one

of those cheap red funnels your mother gave us, a tiny

channel for whatever amount of whatever flows into it.

On impulse, I return to the Nativity Church, which I

am then unable to escape; some Brazilians berate me

as I attempt to slip out through the entry door before

my rescue by an earnest young tour guide who says

urgently, Just give me two minutes and I will show you

exactly where Jesus was born. You hurt. You vanish.

Praise to the pain / scalding us toward each other.

In 1929, Edison celebrates his eighty-second birthday

and, in a radio address, invites all listeners to come

and share his cake and sit at his table. I am pleased

by the fine unfurling of my occasional violence.

I slug you across the shoulder. You kiss my hair.

What did I know / thinking myself / able to go / alone

all the way. Last night I dreamed you were married;

I clutched at a gift I intended to give you.

Do you remember the cars set afire? Where are you

going? Where did you get this? It was a gift.

Where have you been? Jerusalem, Arkansas.

The jaundiced woman faints against the turnstile.

The lithe backpacker weeps indignantly. The fruit man

shakes a fist and rages velvelty. Goodbye, fruit man.

Goodbye, rifle, hung from the shoulder of a spry, rock-faced

apostle whose birthday, he tells me, I share. Dear friend, As

you read this, I don’t want you to feel sorry for me, because I

believe everyone will die someday, and am contacting you

because I really do need your help and I want you to help

me with all your effort and time for just seven to fourteen

workings of your time. What I remember most about

the very beginning was being inside and being outside.

It was so cold outside and so warm inside, as long as

we were near enough to the heater for it to scald us.

Outside, those first few days, we walked along Star

Street, up to the square and back toward the market,

where the cold and the sun and the air sharpened the edges

of everything against itself. It was all about the surfaces

and I was astonished at being allowed to even look at them,

let alone touch. Inside, I burned rice and waited for you.

Today I got stuck in the turnstile at the checkpoint.

I fell asleep on the bus, woke up, recognized nothing.

All reprises are quieter. Goodbye, John Ross. Goodbye,

little red arrow in the town of Beit Jala that signals down

a narrow, shadowed street and says simply Triumph.

Goodbye, mustached old man with your single crutch,

waiting on the side of the road to say just that. Come up

to me, love / Out of the river, or I will / Come down to you.

I peer into the mouth of the stove, another dying animal

I never knew. Ashed embers like the flank of a molten fish.

There is something in all this that I have already forgotten,

and it must be the part I love most. My cold country pulls

its long bones taut beneath the silver light and seems

so certain of its permanence. You were always ready to fall

to your knees! / Yes, I was always ready to fall to my knees.  


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Published in Amalgama / Conflations (Ediciones Antílope, Mexico) and in Lo demás / Else (Kriller71 Ediciones, Spain; Zindo & Gafuri, Argentina).


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Photos by Drew Wilson.



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