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08-30-2010

Lynn Emanuel

My Life

Like Jonas by the fish was I received by it,
swung and swept in its dark waters, 
driven to the deeps by it and beyond many rocks. 
Without any touching of its teeth I tumbled into it 
and without more struggle than a mote of dust 
entering the door of a cathedral, so muckle were its jaws. 
How heel over head was I hurled down 
the broad road of its throat, stopped inside 
its chest wide as a hall, and like Jonas I stood up
asking where the beast was and finding it nowhere,
there in grease and sorrow I built my bower.

 

The Revolution

 

Remember it was early--we were still in the dark
slots of the narrow beds, the room twitching and burning
from all night TV--then voices--almost lively

 

for this place, I think, unsheathing myself from the damp 
bedding to the cool and cluttered eight-story commotion--a burn 
of sound, those voices, a Braille of noise.

I can't remember what broke the wash of listening,
what turned it (like a boat steered hard into its own wake) into sight: 
one or two floors below us, an answer to your question--

(you are up and beside me now)--what is that? was dragged by--
window, wall, window, wall--locked in the arms of two men
and trying to bite her way out of their official embrace.

Did I mention--leaning out to put ourselves into the courtyard
where a spill of images lengthened the view--we stared 
at a woman in her nightgown 

screaming like something metal opening against its will. 
We saw her, then she was disappeared by wall, we saw her 
naked feet on the stone. Wind blew this way and that

in the immense eight-storied square. And these two facts: 
Her gown was torn from her. And we stood staring. What could be done? 
There had been trouble, we knew. Betrayals.

Who was to say she was innocent?

 

-from Noose and Hook

BIO: Lynn Emanuel was born in Mt. Kisco, New York, in 1949. She is the author of four books of poetry: Noose and Hook (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010) Then, Suddenly— (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999), which was awarded the Eric Matthieu King Award from The Academy of American Poets; The Dig (1992), which was selected by Gerald Stern for the National Poetry Series; and Hotel Fiesta (1984). Her work has been featured in the Pushcart Prize Anthology and Best American Poetry numerous times and is included in The Oxford Book of American Poetry. She has been a judge for the National Book Awards and has received two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.Emanuel has taught at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, The Warren Wilson Program in Creative Writing, and the Vermont College Creative Writing Program. She is currently a Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.