2018 Academy of American Poets Prize
BEFORE: An Aubade
by Katherine Indermaur
In the Before, all was one in its darkness.
Black crows swam through black skies of which they were again and again a heavy part.
In the dark Before, mothers ran hands along the edges of space.
The edges curled in with the weight of all there was.
At every place the dark air bowed its wrinkled brow into the ground,
and they both forgot themselves into one.
The sky held all shadow and sighed down into black soil.
All the world held space for plentiful dark.
Everything was heavy with its weight carried low.
Everything was itself and low.
Everything was one and one weighed all.
In wombs all hands felt the weft surround of sphere,
the cord woven into strong with darkness.
The cord pulling us into wholeness.
Pulling us toward the whole dark world.
The darkness of Before made everything a fluid one
The crow thought himself the air
and he was
The air thought itself the ground
and they both were
The mother thought herself the child
growing as she grew always further in
The swollen mothers went into labor.
With long effort the mothers tugged their newbodied girls into dark air.
The sky pressed its wrinkled brow upon the girls but the girls took in air as breath and pressed back.
The girls pressed their heavy heels up into the dark air until the air pressed heavy up into the black crow.
The air pressed up into the black crow until he pressed heavy up into the flexing edge of the whole dark world.
The edge pressed heavy and pressed and pressed until it pulsed up open into dawn.
girl legs punched up the curtain of sky
ripped it open to long color
long now under her shadow
this sun shatter we want to keep
what is loss but the coming morning
daylight curiousing the sky our skin
our exhales leaving our mouths
now open to every in of brilliant ray