poem index

August 5, 2008 The Arsenal, Central Park, New York City From the Academy Audio Archive

The Feeling of the World As a Bounded Whale Is the Mystical [The child affixes]

Darcie Dennigan
The child affixes one of her little pictures to my refrigerator. 
She asks, Can you detect the radiation? 

There is a house, one tree, and grass in dark slashes. A sun
shining. Beneath, in her child letters, she has written Chernobyl. 

At kindergarten they must be having nuclear energy week. 

One could look at the picture and say everything is in order. 
No, I say, I cannot see the radiation. 

The radiation poison, she says, sits 
inside the apple and the apple looks pretty. Then singsongs, 

Bury the apple and bury the shovel that buried the apple 
and put the apple-burier person in a closet forever. 

We are both thinking Then bury the burier.
Both thinking of her picture with no people. 

The poison sits inside the people and the people 
still look pretty, she says. Still, she says, sweetly, Away with them. 

The child is not a Hincher, which is why I love to tell her stories: 

Of the poisonous man who tumbled into the cold sea 
and turned the sea poignant. 
His bones glowed in the cold deep like dying coral. 
His ribcage was a cave for small, lost fish. 
Flecks of his glowing skin joined with green algae 
on the sea surface, where, on a boat, his widow choked 
as she looked down the sun shaft for her husband's greening body.

What is sunlight through seawater most like 
but the strange green fire 
that burnt the man? 
—Who had worked atop a steel hill until a whale—
a great green whale—bumped into the continental shelf 
and the steel hill cracked and its poison leaked out. 
And the man began to melt...

What I am jealous of in the child, what I really detest in her 
is how she nods 

with kindergarten grace and finality. Primly, into her pinafore, 
she tucks what I've told of the story. 

On the refrigerator her picture looks so pretty. 
There is no end to the green or pollen or the feeling of the bees coming.
 
Or of a hill and sky of poison. 

On fire, the man working on the reactor must have looked wavy— 
like a man trying to ride a humpback through the fast green sea. 

Her picture on the refrigerator looks so pretty. 

When I wake her from her nap I will ask 
if the dark green slashes are meant to be 
radiance, not plain grass. 
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From Corinna A-Maying the Apocolypse, published by Fordham University Press. Copyright © 2008 by Fordham University Press. Used with permission.

Darcie Dennigan

by this poet

poem

The infant asleep in the trough is a Buddhist.
This time of year is very, very old. Over eggs, 
that is all we can conclude, us who are asleep, 
who are dreaming this long dream. 
What if this infant could be awoken? 
There is someone in heaven who for centuries 
an infinite
poem
So this guy walks into a bar and asks for a beer. Sorry, 
      the bartender says, I only sell atom smashers 

      And the guy says well isn't that America for you—
every happy-hour Nelson's a homemade physicist and no thank you, 

just an ice cold one, but it's too late—suddenly, he's on his butt 
      in a