“Inquest”

A weekly poem, read by the author.
March 27 2012 10:53 AM

“Inquest”


Click the arrow on the audio player to hear Paul Breslin read this poem. You can also download the recording or subscribe to Slate's Poetry Podcast on iTunes.

How did you feel?

Angry. She couldn’t
Let me be
Separate;
She was a mirror
In which I saw
Not myself
But the way she saw me.

Did you nonetheless love her?

I couldn’t avoid it.
Turned compass,
I mapped the world
Backwards. I hoped
I might be re-turned,
So love could point
Toward its pole-star
Instead of away from it.

Why point to the mirror
Where no one lives
And the stars, which see no one?

I longed to be no one,
Like her ashes scattered
Across the parkBetween where our brick
Apartment had stood
And the white museum
That survived it:
Free to fly
Where the wind drives,
Or, mingled with rain,
Seep under the roots.

What did you think?

Never again that mouth
Pursed in chastisement
Or tensed in its prim
Seam of resistance—
How must it feel
To be done with it?

How do you feel?

As if I’d been leaning
My whole life on a wall,
Straining to move it,
And then, when it vanished,
I leaned on air.

Am I free to go now?

What do you think?

For Slate's poetry submission guidelines, click here. Click here to visit Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project site. Click here for an archive of discussions about poems with Robert Pinsky in "the Fray," Slate's reader forum.

Paul Breslin is the author of You Are Here, and with Rachel Ney, a forthcoming translation of Aimé Césaire’s play, La Tragédie du roi Christophe. He teaches at Northwestern University.  

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