Our series of poetry excerpts continues with a poem from Space Struck, a deft, entertaining debut by Paige Lewis. Lewis is a poet of surprise, but never mere novelty: behind play or pun, there remains transcendence. In this great second-person piece, the narrator gives instructions on how to leave that place of permanent stasis. “Lift your arms toward / the sky and receive nothing.” The poem loops and spins, perhaps, forever.
“So You Want to Leave Purgatory”
Here, take this knife. Walk down
the road until you come across
a red calf in its pasture. It will
run toward you with a rope tied
around its neck. Climb over
the fence. Hold the rope like a leash.
You haven’t eaten in years. Think—
are you being tested? Yes, everything
here is a test. Stop baring teeth
upon teeth and leave the calf
to its grazing. Lift your arms toward
the sky and receive nothing. Keep
walking and think about the rope
around that calf’s neck. Consider
how fast its throat will be choked
by its own growing. Walk until you
understand what the knife was for.
Now forget it. Here, take this knife.
Copyright 2019 Sarabande Books/Paige Lewis. All rights reserved. Posted here with permission of Sarabande Books.