Thursday, 29 June 2017

2 poems by Carrie Etter


I find the heart’s bone carapace during a desert walk, pick it up. In this world, the heart isn’t a cute symbol; it’s like the skull, stark hollow white receptacle, the anatomist’s paperweight, a cardiologist’s memento. In one culture, the dead’s heartcase rests on an altar while all his relations pass and place a single hair inside to accompany him to the afterlife. Another culture collects the hearts of horses; the bone remainder gives swift luck. The case in my hand is a child’s, though no town or house is in sight, let alone the bones of her father’s hand.

"Heartcase" first appeared in The North. Her most recent publication is the chapbook, Scar (Shearsman, 2016), a long poem exploring the effects of climate change on her home state of Illinois.

First published 30 September 2013

His Pantoum

This is the West Country: if it rains, it rains all day,
winds as fierce as anywhere
sweeping hair into my eyes at every crossing.
When did my father get old?

The prairie winds were as fierce as anywhere
when he cycled thirty miles a day.
When did he get old?
This is his twelfth day in intensive care.

When he cycled thirty miles a day,
I went on with my life, unfearing.
This is his twelfth day in intensive care,
my sixth year abroad,

going on with my life, unfearing.
Sweeping hair into my eyes at every crossing
in my sixth year abroad,
the West Country, where it rains and it rains and it rains.

“His Pantoum,” first published in The Times Literary Supplement.

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