This weeks Saturday Poetry, matched with mobile photography/art is entitled ‘The Lonely Sleep Through Winter’ by Kemi Alabi. Born in Wisconsin in 1990, Kemi Alabi earned their BA in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston University. Their first full-length poetry collection, Against Heaven, was selected by Claudia Rankine to receive the 2021 Academy of American Poets First Book Award. They live in Chicago.
I have matched artwork by @ja_graham – Jennifer Graham with this image entitled “In common with most people of artistic perception, I like trees. While looking out of my window toward the wooded hills one summer night, a caravan of camels seemed to be traveling across the sky. They were trees of course but enough like camels to key my imagination up to discover other pictures in the formation of foliage. The rest of the summer nights I enjoyed hunting for tree pictures against the light of the sky or thrown into relief by the glare of automobiles, and drawing them next day. It seemed to me that this silhouette handling of trees at night had never before been done by any artist. I felt that I had discovered something. After the caravan, I saw a woman and a fan and other subjects followed. Any night I could walk or ride along the road and see interesting silhouettes made by tree forms, many of them so clearly defined as to need no improvement on my part. But aside from the appearance of a tree by day or night, is it not kin of the human family with its roots in the earth and its arms stretching toward the sky as if to seek and to know the great mystery?” ~ Art Young. You can view her Instagram feed here.
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The Lonely Sleep Through Winter by Kemi Alabi
I say hunger and mean your hands bitten to boneseed,
bandaged with bedsheet and the night while two states over,
a mouth—ready soil—says your name. Next June’s lover
speaks the harvest: your rich, vowel-tender song
but for the neighbor. More hello than amen. Not yet
a whole book of psalms. Choose this. Not your bare room.
Your self-vacancies. Unlearn empire’s blackness:
night spun savage, space cast empty when really
a balm slicks the split between stars. Really
hipthick spirits moonwalk across the lake ice.
Maps to every heaven gauze the trees in velvet
between that greenbright spectacle of bud and juice
and dust—I’m saying there’s no such thing
as nothing. Try and try, you’ll never disappear.
I say hunger, mean hands you think empty
though everywhere, even the dark, heaves.
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