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About this Poem 

“I went to West Texas and started writing a cycle of Americana poems after the space conjured images that, as a child, I only saw on television—John Wayne, cowboys, borderlines. But suddenly, I felt close to these once-foreign imageries and wondered how I’d changed. Each evening brought the darkest skies in the country, and I understood the expansiveness of our inner selves. Ultimately nothing divides us except the worlds and words we allow.”
Nathalie Handal

Holy Cosmos

We’ve been told space
is like two dark lips colliding

like science fiction
it outlines a small cosmos

where fear hides in a glow
where negative space

becomes a place for wishing
a constellation of hazy tunes

of faint sharp vowels
a glossary of meteors

a telescope to god
a cold bright white

maybe distance damages us
maybe Jupiter

will suddenly surprise us
with a notion of holiness

but instead an old planet
takes over all the space

and we are reminded
of the traces of fire

in our gaze
defining our infidelities

Copyright © 2015 by Nathalie Handal. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 12, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2015 by Nathalie Handal. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 12, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

Nathalie Handal

Nathalie Handal

Nathalie Handal is the author of several books of poetry, including Life in a Country Album, forthcoming from University of Pittsburgh Press in 2019, and The Republics (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), which received a 2016 Arab American Book Award

by this poet

poem
When the white trees are no longer in sight
they are telling us something,
like the body that undresses
when someone is around,
like the woman who wants
to read what her nude curves
are trying to say,
of what it was to be together,
lips on lips
but it's over now, the town
we once loved in, the maps
we once drew
poem

When you doubt the world
look at the undivided darkness

look at Wheeler Peak
cliffs like suspended prayers

contemplate the cerulean
the gleaming limestone

the frozen shades
the wildflowers

look at the bristlecone pine
a labyrinth to winding

2
poem
Dor
We walk through clouds
wrapped in ancient symbols

We descend the hill
wearing water 

Maybe we are dead 
and don’t know it

Maybe we are violet flowers
and those we long for 

love only 
our unmade hearts

On attend, on attend

Wait for Duras and Eminescu 
to tell us in French then Romanian

light
2