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About this poet

Adam Clay is the author of Stranger (Milkweed Editions, 2016), A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World (Milkweed Editions, 2012), and The Wash (Parlor Press, 2006). He is the editor in chief of Mississippi Review, coeditor of Typo Magazine, and a book review editor for Kenyon Review. He teaches creative writing and literature at the University of Southern Mississippi.

How the World Began

The years of the locust tree
Split open with ease,
But I had no ax—
It was lost to the snow.
Let’s make up a story
Of how we arrived here.
Because of its ability to create,
The mind must do the opposite.
I always liked missing you,
Stirring the coals with only
The action of my mind.
To split wood, one must consider
The direction of the grain.
Sometimes the mornings
Remind me of how
Dickinson imagined Heaven,
But what of Heaven
Without the world, the dirt,
And the turn of the head
To a sound distant in the woods?
I doubt anything could diminish
The seasons when dwelling
Within the opposite. How we
Arrived here was never much
Of a story but we imagined
A path around the lake,
A narrative built from circumference,
And the trees we built
From molecules outgrew
The bounds we imagined for them.

Copyright © 2017 Adam Clay. “How the World Began” originally appeared in Poetry Northwest, Winter/Spring 2017. Used with permission of the author.

 

Copyright © 2017 Adam Clay. “How the World Began” originally appeared in Poetry Northwest, Winter/Spring 2017. Used with permission of the author.

 

Adam Clay

Adam Clay

Adam Clay is the author of Stranger (Milkweed Editions, 2016), A Hotel Lobby at the Edge of the World (Milkweed Editions, 2012), and The Wash (Parlor Press, 2006).

by this poet

poem

I wake myself imagining the shape
of the day and where I will find

myself within it. Language is not often
in that shape,

but sentences survive somehow
through the islands of dark matter,

the negative space often more important
than the positive.

Imagine finding you look

2
poem

Like animals moving daily
through the same open field,
it should be easier to distinguish
light from dark, fabrications

from memory, rain on a sliver
of grass from dew appearing
overnight. In these moments
of desperation, a sentence

serves as a halo, the moon

poem

I take a break from one thought or another
to pay a credit card bill,
to take the dog out, to water the two

plants in the hanging basket
because Kim asked me to,
but why not instead take a walk

through the early August morning
before the heat wave hits
while the body still