Two Poems by Maya C. Popa

From the Collection Wound Is the Origin of Wonder

November 7, 2022  By Maya C. Popa

All Inner Life Runs at Some Delay

like the martyr amazed at hunger’s
slow subsiding.

The rain at last arrived and with it,
the peculiar compulsion to keep living.

On suffering, philosophers
were always undecided:

to school an intelligence and make it
a soul, the wound is where
the light enters us, and so on.

The wound is where the light enters us.

There shines the face of the beloved
like a headlamp in the dark.


Milton Visits Galileo in Florence

Hard to say if what they saw
was geometry or God, galaxies roiling
wordlessly each night, a summary of light
painted fresh across the firmament.

Ink bringing daybreak into Eden, the angels,
listless in their graces, latent good
pooling with nothing to war over.

A jug of water on the table between them
like an artifact of loneliness, the telescope’s
moons on Satan’s shield—it was, after all,
a human friendship, full of mortality’s tokens.

Both went blind in their old age.

Begin again in darkness, life says sometimes.
Picture the trees burning in autumn,
the earth’s relief, at last, at being fallen.


Excerpted from Wound Is the Origin of Wonder: Poems by Maya C. Popa. Copyright © 2022. Available from W.W. Norton & Company.

Maya C. Popa
Maya C. Popa
Maya C. Popa is the author of American Faith, recipient of the 2020 North American Book Prize. Her poems have appeared in the Nation, Poetry, and the Paris Review, among other publications. The poetry reviews editor at Publishers Weekly, she lives in New York City.

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