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how should I define the limits of my concern the boundary between
mine and not-mine the chime of the pronoun like a steel ring cast over
what I know what I name what I claim what I own the whine of
the pronoun hones its edges to keenness because there is power in the
categorical that prides itself and plumps itself and proliferates till there
is no room in here for anything but power till there is no air in here
but there would be no need for air if you could learn to breathe in
whatever I breathe out
B. Noun 1
A pit or tunnel in
stones or ores or coal
or by other methods.
because the earth does not gleam with the shine of the noun to dig
into the earth is imperative to use my fingers or else to fashion more
rigid more perdurable fingers that cut or delve or sift or shatter
because we are more evolved than animals because to mine is not to
burrow because the earth is not for us to live in because the earth is
not precious in itself the earth is that from which what is precious is
taken what is scraped away or blasted away or melted away from
what my steeltipped fingers can display or sell or burn
C. Noun 2
when stepped upon
or when approached
by a ship, vehicle,
my devise my device redefined by intent so thinskinned this earth is
untouchable a sly simulacrum of innocence concealing an infinity of
hairtrigger malice the cry of the noun sealed in a concentric sphere
that sheaths its lethal secret in silence unapproachable it sings its
unspeakable harvest in this field I have seeded with violence
away or otherwise remove
by slow degrees or secret means.
to dig is to build dark dwellings of negative space to knit a linked
network of nothing the seams of the seemingly solid unravel the
itch of erosion the scratch of collapse each absence the artifact of
specific intention an abscess a crater a honeycomb of dead husks
the home of the verb is founded on ruin the crime of the verb
hollows out prisons and graves the rhyme of the verb tunnels
from fissure to fracture from factory to faction from faultline
to fate this foundation is equal parts atom and emptiness this
fear invades fractally by rhizome and root what cement could
salvage this crumbling concrete should I pledge my allegiance to
unearthing or earth
Monica Youn is the author of Blackacre. Her previous book, Ignatz, was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Award, and she has received fellowships from Stanford University, the Library of Congress, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Bellagio Center, Yaddo, and MacDowell. Her poems have been published in Poetry, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Paris Review, and The Best American Poetry, among other publications. She currently teaches at Princeton University and in the Sarah Lawrence and Warren Wilson MFA programs. A former lawyer, she lives in New York.
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