Poets Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib and Barbara Crooker have wildly different takes on the celebration of passing years.
rarely is it a good idea to tell someone when they have appeared
in a dream that came to you during a long and hot
week. You know, the kind of week where you do not sleep
much, and instead drag your fingertip along the fluorescent
graves. The kind of week where you say how or oh,
not again. This week, the politician on television says that we are fighting
a different kind of war and I wonder if this means
the kind where everyone returns to their homes unburied, a candle
pushed into a sheet of sugar for every year they’ve missed.
I think I’m saying that a different kind of war is maybe not a war
at all, but then what here would keep us up at night.
I shake my worry for the born and unborn alike out
of a pill box and swallow it with a glass of water. And I hesitate
to say this, friends. But when I finally let go and closed my eyes…
I WANT TO WRITE A POEM TO CELEBRATE
the body, as it ages, its mystery and majesty,
the scars, the lines, the silver threads
unwinding. I no longer care about air-brushed
perfect people in glossy magazines. I want to celebrate
the real: weak ankles courtesy of afternoons
chasing a puck on a frozen pond. Thighs, more Venus
of Willendorf than Kate Moss or Twiggy. Upper arms
that wobble like jello no matter how many reps
I do at the gym. Belly that stretched big as a watermelon,
then spit out (how did that happen?) sweet pink babies.
Breasts that fed them, rivers of thin blue milk.
Yes, I’ve made the turn onto the unpaved road,
where fat yellow leaves hang overhead. Things…