poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

Leah Naomi Green grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina. She received an MFA from the University of California, Irvine.

Her first full-length poetry collection, The More Extravagant Feast, was selected by Li-Young Lee as the winner of the 2019 Walt Whitman Award, given by the Academy of American Poets, and will be published by Graywolf Press in April 2020.

About The More Extravagant Feast, Lee writes,

“This book keeps faithful company with the world and earns its name. The darkness and suffering of living on earth are assumed in this work, woven throughout the fabric of its lineated perceptions and insights, and yet it is ultimately informed by the deep logic of compassion (is there a deeper human logic?) and enacts the wisdom of desire and fecundity reconciled with knowledge of death and boundedness. These poems remind us that when language is used to mediate between a soul’s inner contents and the outer world’s over-abundance of being and competing meanings, it’s possible to both transcend the nihilism of word games, thereby discovering a more meaningful destiny for language, as well as reveal the body of splendor which is Existence.”

Her chapbook,  The Ones We Have, received  the  2012 Flying Trout Chapbook  prize. She is associate editor of  Shenandoah, and teaches English and Environmental Studies at Washington and Lee University. Green lives in  the Shenandoah Mountains  with her husband and their daughters.

The More Extravagant Feast

The buck is thawing a halo on the frosted ground,
shot in our field predawn.

Last night we pulled a float in the Christmas parade.
It was lit by a thousand tiny lights.

My daughter rode in my lap and was thrilled
when the float followed us. Ours is a small town.

Everyone was there. And their faces,
not seeing ours, fixed behind us, were an open sea,

a compound sea of seas that parted
under our gaze. And Santa was bright,

though my daughter shied from the noise of him.
She studied the red and white fur of his suit.

She woke this morning when the rifle fired outside.
I lifted her to see the sunrise

and her father, kneeling above the buck’s body
in the middle distance. She asked if they would be cold.

I brought him gloves and warm water, knelt with him
in the spare light by the buck, who steamed, whose liver

and heart, kept so long dark,
spilled onto the winter grass,

whose open eyes saw none of it, realized
nothing of my husband’s knife

slicing open his abdomen, his rectum. The puncture
of his diaphragm startled me more than the gunshot,

opening a cavern of deep blood that poured
over his white belly. I did not

understand the offering, but loved it,
the fur red, white, incoherent. Somehow cleaner.

When I come back in, she asks me to draw a picture
of her father on the hill. I pick her up—the miracle

of her lungs that grew inside me,
kept long dark—her working heart

let out into the rounder world,
the more extravagant feast. The miracle

of her dad on the hill as we draw him
in his big coat, warm. Afterward,

how he and I hold each other
differently, feeling

the collections of muscles
and organs held

somehow together. The miracle
of bodies, formed whole like fruits,

skins unruptured and
containing the world.

Copyright © 2018 Leah Naomi Green. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Spring 2018.

Copyright © 2018 Leah Naomi Green. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Tin House, Spring 2018.

Leah Naomi Green

Leah Naomi Green

Leah Naomi Green’s first full-length poetry collection, The More Extravagant Feast, was selected by Li-Young Lee as the winner of the 2019 Walt Whitman Award, given by the Academy of American Poets.

by this poet

poem
“God is an infinite sphere, the center of which is everywhere, the circumference nowhere.”
                                                              —Borges


1.

The peony, which was not open this morning, has opened,
falling over its edges 

like the circumference of God, still clasped 
at the
poem
the room where I want to rest,
I find my hands and am able 

again to see you—
clear eyed where we left one another—

last year in the passenger’s seat,
having woken after Colorado, which was beautiful

and which I did not wake you for, 
wanting all the aspens, 

all the golden, quaking aspens, and their silence
poem
“It is your very self” I tell him.  
He has never seen me.  

His quick coin of breath disappears on the glass as it forms: air 
that feeds his bones their portion

willingly as it feeds mine.  He spends his here, 
besieged by the dull birds who gather 

and whom he cannot touch, his own feathers 
red as wrought