by Kiki Petrosino

Whereas these strands, well-oiled & diligent in their parts, & appearing in tensile character an iron cloud-net several times the diameter of the head—these strands have I, in passing conduct, fidelity, & stewardship, in all protein & mineral accompaniments, in darkness of kerchief & darkness of hands, these have I spirited across the snow & the American seas, from thence to plinths & palettes opportune for discharge of this trust—these strands, which rest in trust to me & which I have dragged a small way into this Country, seeking & halting, desirous to prevent mishap, the undue severance of charge, the tease, the crop & bang, desirous only of those victuals which may furniture my constant guard—whereas for this have I gainsaid the touch of free-booter, the tang of sea-rover & divers others—drinkers, tinkers, kings & clothiers all. These strands, wherein silence bides, close as horses in an afternoon of rain, these ropes which rise against containment & the blur of slang, for these do I come forth in torrents, do I come forth in tenderness & earth, do I come forth in rage for these, for these.

Published on June 10, 2020

First published in Harvard Review 37