Poetry

I Am Still

Jorie Graham

on the earth.
My interval
is fixed. Who
fixed it.

For a while
all that came out
was answers.
Then nothing.

In the distance
high tension lines
on fire and up close
a knot in a

branch on
fire. Stumps
everywhere. I waited. Looked for
a crease in the earth

wind or light
could course in
guiding us, pointing
the way. Any

way. Sought
spells. Climbed higher
onto the ridge to see
further. Rocks

burning in the
distance. Then distance 
burning. No 
sweetwater. All tongues

fire, no speech
those of us human
could read for
signs. Grant me

mission my rushed heart
said. Grant me vision
into the balance
sheet. Everywhere I looked

those still traversing
began to fail. Air they
limped in itself
limped—

I thought I detected a
rhythm in the reddening—
thought at least pattern
give me
—but

dust jerked-up in a
circle then dropped
holding no ghost
of meaning. Thought

are those still 
bldngs in the distance—
are those still
addresses. The air I sd out

loud, looking into it standing there 
in front of me. The air
going into its far moments
without

gathering-up. Smooth. 
Flowing. Unruffled.
Above, new crowds now
crossing the summit &

swarming out into
the valley desperate for
intention. Which way
do we go

I ask the air. What 
is it coughs in the
invisible, in the as-yet
unmade, as-yet un-

forced. Where nothing has been
established.
No forms locked
in. The sun

comes up burning.
Say everything I say to the air 
which begins to
thin now, say

everything before it dis-
appears. Turn us
loose. I remember
a stream darting free

from headwaters & then the

downslope which was 
earth’s gift. I remember it
widening. Leaves stirring above it,
as-if leaves stirring deep in-

side its
surface. What
are they an
expression of

I think as I squint them

in—gripping before 
this memory
fades. Oh. Try to hold on.
We are a reflection

now. Where is what we

reflect? How could it
leave us here. Old
story, have you ended.
Have you left us in this memory-

stream now, without
reasons, without
plot. I look up before the
air becomes unbreathable,

I close my eyes and try to see it again,
the stream. It is a temple. It is
rushing. How could we
not have heard.

Jorie Graham is the author of fifteen collections of poetry, including [To] The Last [Be] Human, forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press. She teaches at Harvard University.
Originally published:
June 1, 2022

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