Black Lives Matter. We stand in solidarity with those affected by generations of structural violence. You can help »

The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2020

All Issues
JUNE 2020 Issue
Poetry

Stepping Back

so, through our desolation,
thoughts stir, inspiration stalks us
through gloom

        --- H.D. The Walls Do Not Fall

I noticed the night
noticed a new half moon
I noticed it looked liberated
sharp. piercing

The sky was clear

I noticed my panic

I heard remote birds
I noticed the beggar I noticed
the dancer

Hesitation

Apprehension, speed
and speed I noticed

Someone fumbling
with a slippery glove

I noticed a quarter here’s
something, something

Was money safe?
Was larynx?
Sex safe?

I noticed hesitation
And how to think invincibly

That’s what it means
to be wise
think before you touch




See what you
cannot see

You can’t touch
It’s invisible
I noticed

Someone was kind

I noticed efficacy
I noticed warning
I noticed signs signaled
doom

Touch of optimism
I noticed rituals

I noticed
shifts of mood
flicker
I noticed momentum

This was readiness is all
This was an almanac

I noticed closing’s closure
I noticed the Cloisters
I noticed distraction

Shuttered
I noticed
Shuddered

Words closer
to action




I noticed
a book

I noticed poetry
might save
you now

Save you
if you let it
It’s time

I noticed
startled words
jump on the
page
I noticed my speed
to stay alive

Speed is purpose
I noticed

Stand aside
Was something there
I noticed nothing

A subway stalled
I noticed anxiety

I noticed crying
People moving

Would I be
subject for interrogation

Was I abiding

Was I living rules




I counted them
I am behaving

What did one know?

Know this could be still
empty
Know this could
be full

I noticed breathing

I noticed someone
freaking out in the bank
what he used to be
still elegant

But not what you see now,
he told them
He told them he used to be
on with credit

I was one with credit
He said,
I heard, I noticed

I noticed speed again
I noticed thinking
itself a victor

Speed is a vector

No one saying what’s going on
when you are in business

Put on a face

I noticed how your faces are in my
vocabulary now
I am in yours too, I noticed

I noticed out of pity
I noticed unheeding

I noticed the mirror of
wisdom

All things equal
shimmering mirror
holding tight in brain

I noticed no one in the streets

I noticed the outcast
And around the world

The broadcasts in my head
I noticed
walking by




I noticed remembering
how one touched a
small thing gently
and it expanded
a rail, a glass, a corner
a trigger

Button to set off a bomb

How one stayed calm

I noticed
her beautiful eyes closed
I noticed thinking
open them please
Help me

I noticed children
I noticed obedience

Tender faces in routines

I noticed insouciance
Noticed determination

I noticed the
listings
What is missing

What I won’t be able to
notice
I noticed hesitating,
stepping back

I was in the world
I noticed it

World, world?

The parks are closed I noticed

I noticed the hardship of rain
when you live on the street

I remembered Berlin before
the wall came down
I remember

things opening

I noticed elsewhere
things closing down
Beirut
I noticed barriers and guns

I noticed shorter hours,
longer days

I noticed the silver
foil I dropped
afraid to pick it up




Wipe it down
I noticed a cough

I remembered
a conference in Wuhan
bustling city, the lake
in happy translation

I notice the care in transition
How far we came
and back a step

I noticed the invisible scourge

The invisible body
invisible embrace

I noticed the child in the
hallway stepping
back
Good, good
stop I noticed

Stepping back
I noticed what
parts of the body shut down
I noticed my eyes
peering into screens
Eyes awake, and ears

I noticed my voice
next to yours
noticing
a continent away.



         March/April 2020

Photos by No Land, © 2020, maepoe.com

Contributor

Anne Waldman

Anne Waldman is the author, most recently of Trickster Feminism, Penguin 2018, and Sanctuary, Spuyten Duyvil 2020, and her vinyl album SCIAMACHY was just released by Fast Speaking Music with support from the Levy Gorvy Gallery in NYC.

close

The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2020

All Issues