This Is Our Intimacy Now: Featured Poetry by Carmen Giménez Smith

August 6, 2019 | 1 book mentioned

Our series of poetry excerpts continues with a poem from Be Recorder by Carmen Giménez Smith. Her poems often reflect a narrator’s childhood memory or perspective—and these glimpses into the past help sharpen the present.

In this poem, Smith shows the pain of seeing a parent struggle, someone who was once “remedy and anchor” but is now disoriented, unsure. It’s a moving poem of loss, love, and how both are “beautiful and sad and strange.”

“I Will Be My Mother’s Apprentice”

as if I were a hunger because
it is our bleak and common future
to reverse the sphinx. I study the meander
of her logic for context. Sometimes it is
like a poem that is not quite realized
filled with hollows and bursts,
a stranger’s grief and rage. She asks
for home when she’s home. She screams
for the purse we haven’t hidden from her.
Sometimes we circle the same spots,
and I try to be as I know she was with me
once: remedy and anchor. I’m a fair
to poor replica, yet still her proxy.

That you didn’t know her is your
misfortune: a hot planet’s core,
late summer’s best light. As metaphor
I evoke a pink, vulnerable jelly,
translucent and containing the past.
I hold it in my hand and against a lamp.
This is our intimacy now. My nails trace
the brown spots that mark her losses.
Beautiful and sad and strange, I say,
because I’ve made her into something else.

I Will Be My Mother’s Apprentice,” from Be Recorder. Copyright © 2019 by Carmen Giménez Smith. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, www.graywolfpress.org.

is a contributing editor for The Millions. He is the culture editor for Image Journal, and has written for Rolling Stone, GQ, The Paris Review, The Atlantic, Esquire, and The Kenyon Review. His newest book is Longing for an Absent God. Follow him at @nickripatrazone and find more of his writing at nickripatrazone.com.

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