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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, August 16, 2017.
About this Poem 

“‘Ancient Sunlight’ is a consideration of the ways in which we attempt to preserve aspects of ourselves via identity, via material existence (hence the physics aspect) and in seemingly ironic conflict with the idea that we must die in order to achieve immortality. That is, the conservative definition is ‘to live forever,’ but since death is a transition necessary to appreciate the shifts and cycles of being, the larger scope of immortality is often conflated with a desire to be remembered, so would it be a disaster to go on living forever, inevitably forgotten?”
—Amy King

Ancient Sunlight

Shame on you for dating a museum:
Everything is dead there and nothing is alive.
Not everyone who lives to be old embraces
the publicity of it all. I mean, you get up and folks
want to know, How did you get here? What makes you
go? What is the secret?
And there is no secret except
there are many things that build the years out.
They are not vegetables every day and working out
but a faith that all of these things add up
and lead us to some sum total happiness
we can cash in for forever love in the face
of never lasting. That people along the way
keep disappearing in a variety show of deathbed ways
is also the sheer terror that it may not hold for us too.
That we may outlast everything and be left
alone to keep going, never Icarus with wax melting,
never the one whose smoke & drink undid
the lungs that pull our wings in then out and the liver
that keeps chugging the heft of Elizabeth Cotten’s
“Freight Train” with her upside down left hand guitar still
playing in videos past her presence. I have become a person since
I reorganized my face in the mirror and the world is my inflation.
But this testament offers no sound or silence since
nothing is proven yet and you are still here,
the dead stars’ light landing on your rods and cones
in a vitrine of cameos building—blink.

Copyright © 2017 by Amy King. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 16, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Amy King. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 16, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Amy King

Amy King

Amy King is the author of The Missing Museum (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2016) and I Want to Make You Safe (Litmus Press, 2011). 

by this poet

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A tiny face of genius & tolerance
brands itself organic
abrupt vampire of himself, of health,
stoned circle of having risen—
 
Why the natural inclination to pet,
to be affection with a soul made of bone
on haunches among honeysuckle
and little else to dine upon?
 
I wasn't able to claim the backs
of my legs
poem

The words became librarians, custodians of people
I looked for on the bridge.
I forgot my own face.
I read the book backwards, and
I painted your name in lace
(I drink only the milk of script as beer).
I dislocate all gallery aesthetics,
I carry keys for Baltimore and
Go

poem
Man acts as an antenna for the sun
and then: a trout in the milk, 
men who wear kilts after darkness. 
Build a bottle of fish with a few dried figs. 
Dear Shadow,
when did I become that person?  
I mean one who says "plastic glucose" 
without wondering what 
rotten-sweet is? The one who teenagers
represent?