Poets Against Sexual Violence: Fundraiser for RAINN (Part Seven)

Click here to donate to RAINN

As part of the lead-up to our reading, here’s a poem by one of the eight poets who’s reading on Saturday 29th April (see below for more details): Lizzie Harris, whose debut collection, Stop Wanting (CSU Poetry Center, 2014), was selected by Tracy K. Smith and named one of Cosmo’s “10 Books by Women You Have to Read This Spring.” Her poems appear in All Hollow, Barrow Street, The Carolina Quarterly, Painted Bride Quarterly, Phantom Limb, Sixth Finch and VICE.com. She was born in southern Arizona, raised in Pennsylvania and currently resides in Brooklyn, where she’s a poetry editor for Bodega Magazine. “White Loss of Forgetting” was originally published by Brooklyn Poets.

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Lizzie Harris / www.lizzieharris.com

White Loss of Forgetting
I remember the touching
was softer than I wanted
and after          I wanted things quiet
because I didn’t trust the skin
that skinned my little body     I don’t want to be vague

he had my body run the water
he took my body for a carpet
he took my body from men
I would one day want to love me
I don’t want to be vague

My mother took my body to the doctor
she said I was infected
from sitting in the bathtub
but it makes a kind of after-sense
because             I was tired
of that shower reassembling my body
in steam            I had never before
seen my father in water
so perhaps
he mistook me for a spout
with a head that clicks to expose
infinite pressure          I don’t want to be vague

awful things happened
the worst sinks beneath
my eye                until I can only see
my crown           I only see

my father coaxing
at the spout     but my body is small
and then it all gets

lower                  and then I swear
he pulls a red thread
from my middle          and I’m so low now
I see myself from the nosebleeds
see sky like a bed          to hide beneath
please
believe me

When Lizzie read with The Eagle and the Wren in September 2014, we introduced her thus: Don’t be fooled by Lizzie’s self-deprecation. She’s an amazing poet whose work exposes the roots of longing and fear, the support that family members can give each other while nonetheless being divided by what remains unsaid or unrecognized, of needs that remain unfulfilled. In one of the many poems that share the title of her collection, the speaker notes, “I don’t want to forgive,/it’s become a sort of closeness.” Lizzie’s work breaks down dichotomies—evil and goodness, truth and fiction, love and loss—and revels in the reality that is left over, one that is equal parts sweetness and dark despair, indistinguishable from each other. Despite the admonition of her book’s title, the poems collected speak of the continued need to hunger for a future of kindness and love. 

We’re proud that she can join us next Saturday (29th April at 7 p.m.) at Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop. If you missed my post about my motivations for organising the reading, you can read it here. The post has all the information you will need to donate to RAINN (or, go to the top of this post and click the link), and directions if you would like to come to the reading, which is at Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop on Saturday, 29th April at 7 p.m. We hope to see you there.

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