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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, April 13, 2016.
About this Poem 

“This poem is based on Martha Graham’s iconic dance solo Lamentation (1930), a portrait of a grieving woman, with a score by Zoltán Kodály. The dancer, seated on a bench, is entrapped in a knitted tube of stretchy blue fabric with only her face, hands, and feet visible. This poem is part of the title series of my forthcoming book Blackacre, a term that lawyers use to designate a hypothetical parcel of land, along with its variants whiteacre, blueacre, greenacre, etc.”
—Monica Youn

Blueacre

                     Lamentation (Martha Graham, 1930)

                     What shall I compare to you, that I may comfort                                 you, virgin daughter of Zion? Lamentations 2:13

 

Wordless, ceaseless,
a second, seamless skin,
this blue refrain

sings of comfort,
camouflage, the rarest
right—to remain

faceless, featureless,
the barest rune of ruin:
a chessboard pawn

that rears up into a castle
then topples in defeat,
an exposed vein

on a stretched-out throat
pulsing frantically
as if to drain

unwanted thoughts
into the body’s reservoir—
an inky stain

bluer than blushing,
truer than trusting,
the shadow zone

at the core of the flame—
too intense, too airless
to long remain

enveloped, as if
a moth lured to the light
were trapped, sewn

back in its cocoon,
the way the pitiless
mind goes on

shapemaking—
gamma, lambda, chi—
a linked chain

of association no less
binding for being silken,
a fine-meshed net thrown

over the exhausted
animal—having given up
its vague, vain

efforts to escape,
and now struggling
simply to sustain

a show of resistance,
to extend a limb toward
extremity, to glean

one glimpse of light,
one gasp of air, then folding
inward, diving down

into the blue pool
at the body’s hollow center,
there to float, and drown.

Copyright © 2016 by Monica Youn. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 13, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Monica Youn. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 13, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Monica Youn

Monica Youn

Monica Youn is the author of Blackacre (Graywolf Press, 2016). She teaches at Princeton University and lives in New York City.

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2
poem
It was hardly a high-tech operation, stealing The Scream.
That we know for certain, and what was left behind--
a store-bought ladder, a broken window,
and fifty-one seconds of videotape, abstract as an overture.

And the rest? We don't know. But we can envision
moonlight coming in through the broken
poem
When you have left me
the sky drains of color

like the skin
of a tightening fist.

The sun commences
its gold prowl

batting at tinsel streamers
on the electric fan.

Crouching I hide
in the coolness I stole

from the brass rods 
of your bed.