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About this poet

Laura Kasischke is the author of several poetry collections, including Where Now: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2017), which was long-listed for the National Book Award, and The Infinitesimals (Copper Canyon Press, 2014). She teaches at the University of Michigan, and lives in Chelsea, Michigan.

The Pain

Like the human brain, which organizes
The swirls and shades of the bathroom tiles
Into faces, faces
With expressions
Of exhaustion, of disdain. The
Virgin Mary in the toast of course
But also the penance in the pain, and the way
My mother invented
Plums and tissue paper, while
My father invented the type of
Sudden kindness
That takes you by surprise
When you’ve expected to be chastised
And makes you cry


 

About this poem:
"The poem's impulse is the same as the poem's subject—a grappling, out of hope?—with the idea that there must be some way to integrate into one's life, if necessary, the experience of physical pain. If I can make out faces and objects every morning (if I stare long enough) at the bathroom tile—or so I was thinking—surely there would be a way to make meaning out of this pain?"

Laura Kasischke

Copyright © 2013 by Laura Kasischke. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on March 27, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Laura Kasischke. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on March 27, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Laura Kasischke

Laura Kasischke

Laura Kasischke is the author of several poetry collections, including Where Now: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 2017), which was long-listed for the National Book Award, and The Infinitesimals (Copper Canyon Press, 2014). She teaches at the University of Michigan, and lives in Chelsea, Michigan.

by this poet

poem

In the mirror, like something strangled by an angel—this
woman glimpsed much later, still

wearing her hospital gown. Behind her—mirrors, and
more mirrors, and, in them, more cold faces. Then

the knocking, the pounding—all of them wanting to be
let out, let in. The one-way conversations.

poem
The white bowls in the orderly
cupboards filled with nothing.

The sound
of applause in running water.
All those who've drowned in oceans, all 
who've drowned in pools, in ponds, the small 
family together in the car hit head on. The pantry

full of lilies, the lobsters scratching to get out of the pot, and God
poem

Remember sleep, in May, in the afternoon, like
a girl’s bright feet slipped into dark, new boots.

Or sleep in one another’s arms at 10 o’clock
on a Saturday in June?—that

smiling child hiding behind
the heavy curtain of a photo booth.

All our daysleep, my love, remember sleep