If one stood perfectly still. Even in the withering hours
of then. Hair down to here. Being alive and quiet.
One could forget oneself. Forget what one didn’t even recognize.
How mad it felt. Subliminally. One could pick out goldfinches
and mourning cloaks among the dying stalks of cosmos,
and across the ditch of gray wastewater they use to irrigate
the burial ground, a young man in a late-flowering tree
taking our photograph.
One of my favorite things about poetry is, regardless how much I pride myself on studying the genre, it’s possible to encounter a different writer, a different style, every time I pick up a book or magazine, or scroll through the internet. Poetry is forever changing, forever expanding. You just have to love that.
According to the write up on the late C.D. Wright over at The Poetry Foundation, her writing is “experimental, Southern, socially conscious, and elliptical… and has not cleaved to any one voice or form …”
Wright went the way of many 20th century artists — she left us in the early hours of 2016, months before I experienced the pleasant surprise of this poem while leafing through the March issue of Harper’s. I would have liked to read her while sitting circled together with other poetry students; maybe stumbled over a podcast and run out to purchase Steal Away, then send her a “thank you” email for the pleasure of that read. But this really isn’t about me or all my could-haves-if-only, is it?
“Imaginary August” is beautifully mysterious, yet simultaneously grim and solid. I heard the southern twang in it long before I read the writer’s bio and learned she hailed from the Ozarks. Excuse me while I go read it again.