Welcome to our first installment of The Hinge Poem, a regular feature inviting readers throughout the Triangle (and beyond) to read and discuss a single poem by a leading local author–and to talk directly with the poet him- or herself.
We’re leading off with Alan Shapiro’s “Wherever My Dead Go When I’m Not Remembering Them,” which appears directly below. To get started on the conversation, scroll down, read the poem, and then post your questions, answers and observations in the comment section (if you’re on the home page, you’ll first need to click on “Leave a comment” below or the headline above.) Read what others have written, engage, discuss–just be respectful. It’s fine to disagree, but we’ll delete ad hominem attacks and insulting language.
Most importantly, remember to come back on Sunday, October 16, from 3:00-5:00 p.m., when Alan Shapiro will be joining us for a live chat on this post.
WHEREVER MY DEAD GO WHEN I’M NOT REMEMBERING THEM
Not gone, not here, a fern trace in the stone
of living tissue it can somehow flourish from;
or the dried-up channel and the absent current;
or maybe it’s like a subway passenger
on a platform in a dim lit station late
at night between trains, after the trains have stopped–
ahead only the faintest rumbling of
the last one disappearing, and behind
the dark you’re looking down for any hint
of light–where is it? why won’t it come? you
wandering now along the yellow line,
restless, not knowing who you are, or even
where until you see it, there it is,
approaching, and you hurry to the spot
you don’t know how you know is marked
for you, and you alone, as the door slides open
into your being once again my father,
my sister or brother, as if nothing’s changed,
as if to be known were the destination.
Where are we going? What are we doing here?
you don’t ask, you don’t notice the blur of stations
we’re racing past, the others out there watching
in the dim light, baffled,
who for a moment thought the train was theirs.
About the Author: Alan Shapiro is the William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of ten books of poetry, including, most recently, Old War. He is a former recipient of the Kingsley Tufts Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. A fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Shapiro will be publishing two new books next year, Night of the Republic (Houghton Mifflin) and the novel Broadway Baby (Algonquin). He will offer a free lecture through the Hinge on Thursday, October 20, 2011.
The conversation starts below. And once again, remember to come back on Sunday, October 16, from 3:00-5:00 p.m., when Alan Shapiro will be joining us for a live chat on this post.