Solemnity

Feb 19, 2021

Today’s poem is “Solemnity” by Myronn Hardy.  He is the author of, most recently, Radioactive Starlings, published by Princeton University Press (2017).  His poems have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the Virginia Quarterly Review, the Baffler, Rhino, and elsewhere.  He teaches at Bates College.

He writes, “This poem began with an actual experience of seeing a Syrian women asking for money outside of a mosque in Morocco. From that initial observation, I began thinking about how we are connected to people, places, and ideas and how those connections shape each of us. This led me to also consider loss: when these connections fail or are destroyed, who are we, and with what are we left?”

Solemnity
by Myronn Hardy

At the mosque’s entrance      3:30 a.m.     Syrian
women beg wearing black gloves.
Your father’s grandmother was Syrian

before the country was ash. 
Before the government turned 
to kill its people.

What incites that internal blaze?
What says       it is me I will take
or not me      but those whom I claim?


We are claimed after meditation. 
We are walking an empty street 
after pretending to play drums.

After I recognize the heather in air
after we swim in a pool surrounded by azaleas
after your mother smiles observing us

after we sleep in her house       fields
of sunflowers. I’m on a bus
watching them sway.     I’m forgetting

the distance       the inevitable loss
I will hold warm as snow whitens the green. 
What will you hold?

What will you see beyond your hands?
Streets lined with jacarandas
that morph to pines     to a self beneath

ice that wolves trample silently? 
Someone still begs.
Someone still believes in our

innate generosity.
You are waiting for me but refuse to say it.
You believe in returns.

You believe in the planet’s roundness.
You believe in gravity’s inaudible assurance.
You believe in what I doubt.

Copyright © 2019 by Myronn Hardy. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 10, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.