Jorie Graham

Underneath (9) - Poem by Jorie Graham

Up, up you go, you must be introduced.

You must learn      belonging to (no-one)

Drenched in the white veil (day)

The circle of minutes pushed gleaming onto your finger.

Gaps pocking the brightness where you try to see

Missing: corners, fields,

completeness: holes growing in it where the eye looks hardest.

Below, his chest, a sacred weightless place

and the small weight of your open hand     on it.

And these legs, look, still yours, after all you've done with them.

Explain     the six missing seeds.

Explain       muzzled.

Explain     tongue breaks     thin fire      in eyes.

Learn what the great garden-(up, up you go)-exteriority,

the green never-the-less       the green who-did-you-say-you-are

and how it seems to stare all the time, that green,

until night blinds it       temporarily.

What is it searching for all the leaves turning towards you.

Breath the emptiest of the freedoms.

When will they notice the hole in your head     (they won't).

When will they feel for the hole in your chest

Up, go. Let being-seen drift over you again, sticky kindness.

Those wet strangely unstill eyes filling their heads-

thinking or sight?-

all waiting for the true story-

your heart, beating its little song: explain. . .

Explain       requited

Explain       indeed the blood of your lives I will require

explain the strange weight of meanwhile

and there exists another death in regards to which

we are not     immortal

variegated     dappled     spangled     intricately wrought

complicated     obstruse     subtle     devious

scintillating with change and ambiguity


Explain       two are

Explain       not one

(in theory)       (and in practice)

blurry, my love, like a right quotation,

wanting so to sink back down,

you washing me in soil now, my shoulders dust, my rippling dust,

Look     I'll scrub the dirt     listen.

Up here how will I

(not) hold you.

Where is the dirt packed in again     around us between us     obliterating difference

Must one leave off        Explain edges

(tongue breaks)     (thin fire)
     (in eyes)

And bless. And blame.

(Moonless night.

Vase in the kitchen)


Explain     duty to remain to the end.

Duty not to run away from the good.

The good.

(Beauty is not an issue.)

A wise man wants?

A master.


Oh my beloved     I speak of      the absolute     jewels.

Dwelling in     place     for example.

In fluted listenings.

In panting waters     human-skinned     to the horizon.

Muzzled     the deep.

Fermenting     the surface.

Wrecks left at the bottom, yes.

Space     birdless.

Light on it a woman on her knees-her having kneeled everywhere

God's laughter     unquenchable.

Back there its river ripped into pieces, length gone, buried in parts, in

Believe me       I speak now for the sand.

Here at the front end, the narrator.

At the front end, the meanwhile: God's laughter.

Are you still waiting for the true story? (God's laughter)

The difference between what is and could be? (God's laughter)

In this dance the people do not move.

Deferred     defied     obstructed     hungry,

organized around     a radiant absence.

In His dance the people do not move.

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Read poems about / on: laughter, green, dance, fire, people, river, believe, winter, change, woman, spring, summer, beauty, song, women, water, running

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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