Elizabeth Alexander, Countee Cullen, Emmanuel Hiel, Jan Geerts

De Amerikaanse dichteres en schrijfster Elizabeth Alexander werd geboren op 30 mei 1962 in New York. Zie ook alle tags voor Elizabeth Alexander op dit blog.


Autumn Passage


On suffering, which is real.
On the mouth that never closes,
the air that dries the mouth.


On the miraculous dying body,
its greens and purples.
On the beauty of hair itself.


On the dazzling toddler:
“Like eggplant,” he says,
when you say “Vegetable,”


“Chrysanthemum” to “Flower.”
On his grandmother’s suffering, larger
than vanished skyscrapers,


September zucchini,
other things too big. For her glory
that goes along with it,


glory of grown children’s vigil,
communal fealty, glory
of the body that operates


even as it falls apart, the body
that can no longer even make fever
but nonetheless burns


florid and bright and magnificent
as it dims, as it shrinks,
as it turns to something else.



Islands Number Four




Agnes Martin, Islands Number Four,

Repeated ovals on a grid, what appears

To be perfect is handmade, disturbed.

Tobacco brown saturates canvas to burlap,

Clean form from a distance, up close, her hand.

All wrack and bramble to oval and grid.

Hollows in the body, containers for grief.

What looks to be perfect is not perfect.


Odd oval portholes that flood with light.




Description of a Slave Ship, 1789:

Same imperfect ovals, calligraphic hand.

At a distance, pattern. Up close, bodies

Doubled and doubled, serried and stacked

In the manner of galleries in a church,

In full ships on their sides or on each other.

Isle of woe, two-by-two, spoon-fashion,

Not unfrequently found dead in the morning.

Slave ships, the not pure, imperfect ovals,

Portholes through which they would never see home,

The flesh rubbed off their shoulders, elbows, hips.

Barracoon, sarcophagus, indestructible grief

Nesting in the hollows of the abdomen.

The slave ship empty, its cargo landed

And sold for twelve ounces of gold apiece


Or gone overboard. Islands. Aftermath.


Elizabeth Alexander (New York, 30 mei 1962)

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