Carey Powers

Winner of the Louise Louis / Emily F. Bourne Student Award in 2008


Because I did not rise terrific
in steel mornings––red feet
                            over the side of the bed, yesterday––
feeling throned on a beach
is tyrannical. I do not have the stomach for raw
waves, seagulls like funny men
                 I did not grow up on skyscrapers
with perfect view of little women
                                                               and smog below,
consoling, inescapable.

Sitting with birds,
I watch boys make trenches, own
the earth, and scream
                             in flashes, sky through a mountain
of tunnels.
                     Sometimes whistling is useless
and they drown, or else
swim themselves into a love of drowning.
White goes
                     softly towards desire––
to want it, forever,

It isn't that I don't go home;
I just often catch a turn of wind,
                     shriveling away, second thought
from seeing ashes in fire pits below
never uplifted,
                             which is home,
already gone, momentous
like abalone shining on some black
seabed, outlasting.
               The moment after a seagull calls I think
                             of colossal reconciling, sweeping
cathedral organ now wholly
                             devastated with a red-coated cavalier
calling on angels.

                                  Who knows of temperament?
To feel a grave like a sandpiper wading, to cheer
softly when old men make it
                                                       up the stairs––
gargantuan resurrection, boasts of the green river,
                              lovely wit!
Can you sense the plight of dallying leaflets, lily pads?
Are you injured?
Are you in love?

Given that I project broadly, over
               nuances gorged with forgotten fruit dripping
in feverish this is this, that is that
woman skirting the damsel,
                               the lonely orator,
                                               the sweet loose leaf
hovering above her,
                               laps divinely at insignificance,
goldcrest on a snowy sapling.


David Roderick on Carey Powers

The condition of postponement suggests stasis, even paralysis, but the exuberant poetic voice of Carey Powers proves a greater truth, that postponement consists of a sequence of living moments: boys making trenches in the sand, abalone shining on a seabed, daily experience in which poetic impulse becomes a "gargantuan resurrection" of the world. Powers's poetry has some of Whitman's wide-ranging ambulatory effects and his love for
the interconnectedness of species. She also has that rare ability to know where and when to focus, zoom, and pan her lens, which enables her to "project broadly" over the many "nuances" around her. There is a frightening sense of flux in this poem, and an existential depth, but a deep reverence for things in motion prevails. In one moment, her speaker can fret over "ashes in fire pits," and then, a few lines later, "cheer / softly when old men
make it / up the stairs." All this praise and still I haven't addressed so many skillful elements in "Postponing": its lush, organic form; the shifting weight of its shored cadences;
the wild, scattered light she casts over things large and small. "Who knows of temperament?" she coyly asks during a strategic turn in the poem. Yes, Ms. Powers. What indeed.

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