A Poem by Hannah Sullivan

From the Collection Three Poems

January 14, 2020  By Hannah Sullivan


What will survive of us?
Larkin thought the answer might be “love,”
But couldn’t prove it.

“The drafts folder was the most interesting place.” “It was always you, in the end.”
“He tried to tell you in his own way.”

Short chains of carbon in the dust,
This is the practical answer.
Old laptops, pacemakers, leg pins.
DNA fibres revealing death’s cause.
Emails we sent and drafts we didn’t send.
The things we said and those we should’ve.

Downloaded porn videos reveal
Proclivities that shock our friends:
Cotton gags, string cutting into the clefts
Of twenty-something Japanese schoolgirls.
But nothing filthy enough to interest strangers.

Old lovers cross their legs, refold the paper,
Study the afterimage in the metro window.
No one remembers everything about someone.

A quick armpit wash at 6, a fluster of perfume,
Dancing into tights, two daubs of blood.
A finger pulls vagrant hairs, snags the elastic.
Snow in the second week of December.

But how was it that you smelled afterwards,
On my hands?



Three Poems

An extract from the poem “Repeat Until Time.” Excerpted from Three Poems by Hannah Sullivan. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux January 14th 2020. Copyright © 2018 by Hannah Sullivan. All rights reserved.

Hannah Sullivan
Hannah Sullivan
Hannah Sullivan studied Classics at Cambridge, received her PhD in English from Harvard in 2008, and taught as an Assistant Professor at Stanford. Her study The Work of Revision, which examined how modernist approaches to rewriting shaped literary style, was published in 2013 and awarded the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize by the British Academy. She is an Associate Professor of English at New College, Oxford. Three Poems (Faber, 2018) is her first poetry collection.

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