A Countdown in Poems to the Irish Arts Center PoetryFest

Poem #2: Poem, by Lucy Ives

October 21, 2015  By Literary Hub

For the next 11 days Literary Hub will help in counting down the days until the seventh-annual Irish Arts Center PoetryFest begins by publishing a poem, as selected by festival co-curator Belinda McKeon. 

Article continues below


Poem, by Lucy Ives

This isn’t a great poem.

I’m not writing this to write a great poem.

Article continues below

I am writing this because I am one person.

I am only one.

I have a face and a front of my face.

I have two shoulders and two hips.

I’m living.

Article continues below

I live.

So what can I do with my face if it can’t see that person’s face?

What do I tell my eyes to see?

How do I let them know that when they see that face it is that person’s wish that they not know it?

How do I tell them we have to go back into the world where no one knows us and we don’t know anyone?

Article continues below

How do I tell them to stay there?

There is nothing for them to see.

How do I tell my hands they will never touch that person’s hands?

How do I tell my ears that when that person says my name it is only a word?

How do I tell my lips to make that person’s name another word so I can say it?

Article continues below

How do I tell my neck that person cannot see it?

How do I tell my hair that person cannot pull it?

It is my hair.

It is my head.

How do I tell my teeth they will never strike that person’s teeth?

How do I tell my thighs it does not matter what they do?

They are the tops of my legs.

They will fall apart.

How do I tell my back it must never wait for that person?

That person will not hold me.

That person does not know where I am, does not think of me.

Does not know I have exhausted every argument against him.

That person does not know I no longer love freedom.

That person does not know what it means when I ask for forgiveness.

That person does not know I beg the world to let me change.

That person cannot see my face.

Knows a woman with my name and she is a woman.

Does not know the word I hide behind my words.

Does not know this face.

Does not know this is my face.

Says my name and looks at this person.

How do I tell my feet to stand here?

How do I tell my eyes to see?

How do I tell the voice under my voice to keep on speaking?

How do I tell my mouth to speak?


Literary Hub is a proud sponsor of Irish Arts Center PoetryFest.

More Story
Deleted Characters Language is perpetually put to the service of meaning-making or the illusion thereof. This common approach toward instrumental communication—first...

Become a Lit Hub Supporting Member: Because Books Matter

For the past decade, Literary Hub has brought you the best of the book world for free—no paywall. But our future relies on you. In return for a donation, you’ll get an ad-free reading experience, exclusive editors’ picks, book giveaways, and our coveted Joan Didion Lit Hub tote bag. Most importantly, you’ll keep independent book coverage alive and thriving on the internet.