Today’s poem is “Our Blood Aligns Toward Something” by Colin Cheney. He is the author of Here Be Monsters and co-creator of the podcast, Poet in Bangkok. He teaches at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.
He writes: “My parents' farmhouse in Waldoboro had been gutted by a fire before they bought it in 1971. As they renovated, the house evolved into a place of gathering -- a place family could always retreat, where friends felt welcome. In the years before and after Y2K, my siblings and I would invite our friends up from New York and Boston for somewhat raucous New Year’s gatherings at the farm… As midnight neared, we'd demand everyone's watch and bundle up and go out into the deeper woods and sit around a fire and enjoy not knowing when the clock actually turned. (On Y2K itself, a number of friends hurried out of the woods to call home to see if the world had ended.) I wrote this poem out of one such gathering where I'd been left thinking about how much each of our friends was carrying -- joy, hunger, injury, trauma -- when we all found ourselves brought together. Through the COVID pandemic, my parents haven't been able to gather folks at their farm, but they are waiting patiently for the time we can be together again there, all of us."
Our Blood Aligns Toward Something
by Colin Cheney
The mussels’ brined light in cold china.
Friends come the coastal route, & we toast
we have made it, laughing, here we are, all of us.
Two carry malaria though D pays no mind;
J feels the protozoa as birds moving in her blood,
like iron tuned to latitude.
R has lost his sense of taste. The bones
beneath his eyes were shattered before Christmas
walking from the ice rink in Brooklyn. The screws
holding his skull in place are the word dovetail.
For the texture, he says, he serves himself
roast garlic & white beans in vinegar, pork loin
with tarragon & walnuts & thyme.
D will grow feverish within the week
& walk through Cambridge rain to a hospital
where they won’t recognize his symptoms.
In Burundi, they pull everyone off his brother’s
bus & kill many on sight. This too before Christmas,
before he found his way home.
There is iron in a bird’s skull.
The snow settles out in the blue trees of Maine.
“Our Blood Aligns Toward Something,” copyright 2010 by Colin Cheney. Reprinted from here be monsters (University of Georgia Press 2010) by permission of Colin Cheney.