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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, October 24, 2017.
About this Poem 
“‘Won Exit’ came to me verbatim in sleep, and I groggily typed and lineated it at 4 a.m. on my phone. After a placental abruption kept me bedridden for nearly my whole pregnancy, life still feels like a series of nearly impossible entrances and exits. I think this poem arises from that experience, as well as from the species-deep urgency I feel after communicating with my infant son all day: to invent language, to learn to speak again.”
—Elizabeth Metzger
 

Won Exit

In one or two lives 
I opened the door with the prize
only to find the prize was not worth the life.
 
I wanted the door.
 
Brave mahogany door, you be my fortune.
Teach me to understand the jungle cry 
in your grain, the suffering circles 
 
by which your tree wisdom is known.
 
I was superior with handles,
gentle with thresholds. Then, this.
 
Choices at morning hours I usually skip
but there is a little cash flow of beauty
where there is almost no more water.
 
And there is not room and light enough
to stand behind the second 
and listen anymore—
 
I am going through the language of me now.
 
I am flipping open the dictionary of myself
with my tongue, as if that were possible,
to find your first word. 
 
In the torture of a foyer 
doorless for entering, I am entering none.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Elizabeth Metzger. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 24, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Elizabeth Metzger. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 24, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Elizabeth Metzger

Elizabeth Metzger

Elizabeth Metzger is the author of The Spirit Papers (University of Massachusetts Press, 2017). 

by this poet

poem

Either you’ve died, or you arrive
beside me at a funeral

patchily reaching out
from your zero gravity chair

to grab the relative achievement
of my stomach.

There is no cute life in me
but I have eaten a great meal

alone successfully, greater
than I have ever kept

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