Sophie Cabot Black, “Summit”

As you rise you must remove any sign
Of rising: footprint, a branch displaced,
The shifted rock. To arrive is to leave

The way behind you unchanged, as the cold dawn
Picks over what is left. Up in regions
Not yet named, where scattered quartz

Betrays a vein private with gold, where antlers
Locked and died in struggles of domain,
The last ones still against the sky

Show the way out. In such air
Is no room for mercy. Days when we go up
The mountain, then down, only to head up

Again. Up to the edge, hurrying
To get however much done before weather.

Sophie Cabot Black’s new collection, The Exchange, also includes “Eat What You Kill,” “Love Poem,” and “It Never Goes Away,” all of which were first published in Boston Review. Then there’s “Private Equity” (The New Yorker), plus two poems from Slate: “Sheetrock” and “Biopsy.”

I met up with Sophie at Book Court, an independent bookstore in Brooklyn, earlier this summer, to record an episode of The Handsell, where we talked about the metaphorical framework that runs through these poems, and then she came up with some other poets for me to read when I told her I was a fan of Matthea Harvey, Paul Muldoon, and Kevin Young.

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7 August 2013 | poetry |