‘Sense’ a Poem by Dawn Lundy Martin

"Here, gorgeous desolation, and the first remembered sign
of one’s selfness."

August 25, 2020  By Dawn Lundy Martin

“Sense,” the first sacrifice—that cohesion dispersed. Only

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lull left, “pause,” they say, no such thing as “culmination”

unless cupping the squeezed out life, black, a delicate furry thing.

Disturbances and gun buying. My mother refuses everything.

Her body is mostly skin, mostly enduring. I hear hope in her voice.

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She tells me, when the pain ends, when calm comes, she’s going

to buy me a birthday present and it’s going to be a good one.

Remember? Soft to fingers, a thunderous pour, the clean feel of snow?

The way a child body can walk through a blizzard unbeknownst to anyone and deep inside of her own feeling space. Somewhere else a cage rattles. In that place, fingers raw to bone. But, here, gorgeous desolation, and the first remembered sign of one’s selfness. The I emerges, a staff, a kingdom.

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Dawn Lundy Martin
Dawn Lundy Martin
Dawn Lundy Martin is an American poet and essayist. She is the author of four books of poems: Good Stock Strange Blood, winner of the 2019 Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry; Life in a Box is a Pretty Life, which won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry; DISCIPLINE, A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering, three limited edition chapbooks, and a co-written chapbook with Toi Derricotte titled A Bruise is a Figure of Remembrance (Slapering Hol, 2020). Her nonfiction can be found in n+1, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, The Believer, and Best American Essays 2019. Martin is the Toi Derricotte Endowed Chair in English at the University of Pittsburgh and Director of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics.

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