Poem of the Week

Awe

Lena Moses-Schmitt

At first I missed them, how I panged

like a roof beneath their rain,

but I no longer believe in epiphanies.

I have twenty-three while reading The Transit of Venus,

underlining each contradictory insight

the words trip off within me,

and then promise to never have one again.

I used to be such a dutiful student

of consciousness. Last night in the mirror

I found another bright gray hair

curled up from my crown, asking

how long left? who are you?

I can replicate a fragment of the old feeling

by going on a hike with an unbelievable view

planted at the end—

the closer I walk to it, my feet in the dirt,

the sun on my face, the nearer I arrive

at a realization. Anticipation tightens,

I can sense it there, the ocean & drop of cliffs

waiting, like a dog

and his joy on the other side of a door.

The way death waits, brushes my arm

throughout this allotment we call a day.

I’ve never known what to do with beauty—

as if it’s a question of ambition

& not living. As if I understood what beauty was,

as if it doesn’t constantly revise itself.

I called the view “unbelievable” but what exactly

about nature is unbelievable?

The always present sensation that I may never encounter it

again—to be so full of nature I cease

to perceive. The hand on the other side of the door,

the fingers touching my sleeve…and maybe it will be a joy

to go off into forever.

Not just for me but for nature. Relieved,

to not have to be looked at,

the way I look at myself as if I wasn’t myself.

Lena Moses-Schmitt is a writer whose work has appeared in Best New Poets, The Believer, The Cincinnati Review, Ninth Letter, Indiana Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Berkeley.
Originally published:
September 28, 2022

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