poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this Poem 

“I wrote this poem as a way to settle some unfinished business I had with Clarice Lispector, a Brazilian writer whose work I’d been reading intensely for nearly a decade and whose novel I’d recently translated. As is the nature of unfinished business, once I wrote one letter to her, I needed to write another, and on it went for some time.”

—Idra Novey

Translator’s Confession, 3 a.m.

Idra Novey

Dear C, I dropped

your sentence in hot water.
I talked to the boil. I said Here

is my thumb for you to burn.

Here is the soft heart
of my hand and my arm and

the nape of my wreck.

I said vapor, just take me.
I’m done burning

with these pages. Being invisible
doesn’t mean a person

won’t blister, doesn’t mean

the blisters won’t fill
with pockets of water

or when lanced the rawest flesh

won’t emerge. First the word
then the murky leak

begins—what another mind
may scrape against

but never skin.

Copyright @ 2014 by Idra Novey. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 13, 2014.

Copyright @ 2014 by Idra Novey. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-a-Day on May 13, 2014.

Idra Novey

Idra Novey is the author Exit, Civilian (University of Georgia Press, 2012).  She teaches at Princeton University and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

by this poet

poem

 

Click the icon above to listen to this audio poem.

2
poem

 

Click the icon above to listen to this audio poem.

2
poem

Levinas asked if we have the right
To be        the way I ask my sons
If they’d like to be trees       

The way the word tree
Makes them a little animal
Dancing up and down
Like bears in movies
                 
Bears I have to say
Pretend we are children