The Dark Length Home
Anne Champion & Sarah Sweeney
THE DARK LENGTH HOME
Now I’m supposed to love myself,
clasp these hands together
as if they weren’t made to cup
a man’s hip. No husband?
No children? everyone here asks,
which means, What is it like
to be alone? It’s like petals
unfurling at nightfall,
a cluster of tongues tasting earth.
Now we say goodbye again,
now when I hear the march
of your footsteps away,
I no longer mistake them for rain.
Who am I if I don’t need anyone at all?
Not a queen, though my shoulders are straight,
my head high. The sun licks me awake
mornings and I barefoot the beach for sea glass,
peering through the blurred worlds,
every color a cast-off bottle, one man’s trash––
No, even my metaphors are too simple.
All summer, I feast on mangos plucked
from the orchard by the abandoned house,
blackened wood and a thatched roof
with broken reeds inviting slivers
of light, drizzles of rain—
maybe a family lived here once, high
above Rincon with the Flamboyant
trees blooming their red battered lips––
The secrets here have all been silenced,
but still I listen, putting my ear
to the rotting floorboards, hoping
to hear my future in the creaks
and cracks of others’ pasts.
Always I eat the fruit slowly,
alone and unafraid.
They call the water bioluminescent,
but I think feverish––when touched,
it transforms, fizzles incandescent
as my memories of home,
our cottage and the garden
where I coaxed things to grow
and rearranged myself
into a prism of light, letting sun glint
off my shoulders to pierce
you in every shade. In the bay
the water crackles, the whole world visible,
and still I don’t know the way back.
About the Writers
Anne Champion is from Kalamazoo, MI and is the author of Reluctant Mistress (Gold Wake Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared in Verse Daily, The Pinch, PANK, Redivider, Thrush Poetry Journal, New South and elsewhere. She was a recipient of the Academy of American Poet’s Prize,a recipient of the Barbara Deming Memorial Grant, a Pushcart Prize nominee, and a St. Botolph Emerging Writer’s Grant nominee. She holds degrees in Behavioral Psychology and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University and received her MFA in Poetry from Emerson College. She currently teaches writing and literature at Wheelock College in Boston, MA.
Sarah Sweeney was born and raised in the Southern city of Greensboro, North Carolina. Her poems and essays have appeared in publications such as Rattle, Thrush Poetry Journal, Barrelhouse, Cream City Review, Quarterly West, PANK, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop (Soft Skull Press, 2011), and elsewhere. She has received awards from the Academy of American Poets and the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation, along with a Pushcart Prize nomination. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina Greensboro and an M.F.A. from Emerson College in Boston, where she currently lives. She is a writer for the Harvard Gazette.