Robin Myers

It didn’t tell me what to do, the playlist, but it helped. One hundred and twelve hours of phantasmagorical voices singing in all manner of tongues, it had been strung together by someone I didn’t know I knew, then lobbed into the ether, where I caught and tucked it away for later. Once later came, I was ready to receive it out of order. As ordained. By continuity, god of singing. Although I never sang, only listened. Walking in the rain, rooted to my rented bed with my heart percussing. It interpreted. When I was desolate, it told me so. When my thinking pitched forward into awe at what awaited, it told me so. When I remembered that I already hadn’t lived my life with whom I’d told myself I could, that every body is a dandelion, that any bond with any place is imaginary or go-it-alone, that I was pledged to this my inner ear, that I was just one person, it told me so. When it told me something I didn’t want to hear, I clicked ahead. When I changed, it did.

How did this poem begin for you?

This poem began as an ode of sorts to an epic playlist that accompanied me through a time of intense transformation, one that brought both grief and joy. At first, I treated shuffle mode as a kind of oracle. But as I began to steady myself, I started listening more actively, paying more attention to where I did and didn’t want to be transported. While revising the poem, I realized that the sound and syntax had started to reflect that shift, growing more purposeful around the midpoint. It’s not just the anaphora in the second half, but also all the words that end with heavy d-sounds: rooted, rented, interpreted, pitched, awaited, hadn’t, could, bond, pledged, clicked, changed, did. I like to think that the poem and I were both learning to walk on more confident feet – and to relish the feel of the ground beneath us.

Robin Myers is a poet, translator, essayist, and 2023 NEA Translation Fellow. Her latest translations include What Comes Back by Javier Peñalosa M., The Brush by Eliana Hernández-Pachón, and A Whale Is a Country by Isabel Zapata.
Originally published:
May 15, 2024


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