Every once in a while poetry serendipity happens. You read a quotation you like. You research the author. You find gold. That’s what happened to us this week when a daily meditation feed brought a lovely thought from Claire Bateman. Imagine our delight when she turned out to be not just a poet, but a clear and clarion voice and a courageous woman on the page. She graciously has given us permission to bring two extraordinary poems to you. Prepare to be moved and awed.



Because of everything we desire & therefore project,
& everything we dread & therefore hallucinate;

because of what used to be present, but is present no longer,
though everyone yet navigates around it,
& what is not present now, but might one day become so,
though it already exerts gravity,
casting shadows that shoulder other shadows aside—

because of this crowd, one might assume
there wouldn’t be much room left
for anything else at all;

but if you herded onto the drive-in movie screen of the sky
everyone’s phantasms, figments, eidolons, mirages, & chimera,

together, they would form merely
a kind of languidly teeming smudge right there above the horizon,
not precisely at two o’clock, but just a little to the left,
depending on where you stand.



Consider the formal requirements of the braid.
The hair must be imagined as not only non-unitary, but tripartite as well;
the strands must be pre-visualized as twisted & interlaced: over, under,
around, between, in an unbroken pattern;
the problem of securing the tip must be foreseen & overcome by
conceptualizing a flexible filament that loops around itself.
To conceive of all of this, one must have already mastered the theories of
unravelling & release; binding & protection; predestination & free will;
wave action; narrative resolution, & the rupture of the trance state.
The distance between absolute braidlessness & the first braid was
astronomical compared to the scarcely noticeable gap between the
simple braid & the double braid; the herringbone braid; the warhorse’s
mane plaited with tiny bells; braided tiaras with feathers & floating
tourmalines; cornrows; ply-splitting; brocading; the bobbin; the shuttle;
the cotton gin; Bob Marley; the polynomial; DNA; modal jazz
harmonics; & the thirteen simultaneous plotlines of General Hospital.

  Both poems from Leap by Claire Bateman

Claire Bateman’s collections are Coronology (Etruscan, 2010);  The Bicycle Slow Race (Wesleyan, 1991); Friction (Eighth Mountain, 1998); At the Funeral of the Ether (Ninety-Six Press, 1998); Clumsy (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2003); and  Leap (New Issues, 2005). She has received the New Millennium Poetry Prize as well as grants and fellowships from the NEA, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Surdna Foundation.  She lives in Greenville, SC, and is the poetry editor of the St. Katherine Review.

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