Janice N HarringtonWebsite
Years: 2010, 2008, 2007
Janice N. Harrington's Even the Hollow My Body Made Is Gone (2007) won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize from BOA Editions and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. Formerly a librarian, she now teaches creative writing at the University of Illinois.
WHAT THERE WAS
Pine, catalpa, pin oak, persimmon,
but not tree.
Hummingbird, hoot owl, martin, crow,
but not bird.
Cannas, honeysuckle, cockscomb, rose,
but not flower.
Wood smoke, corn, dust, outhouse,
but not stench.
A spider spinning in a rain barrel,
the silver dipper by the back porch,
tadpoles shimmying against a concrete bank,
but not silence.
A cotton row, a bucket lowered into a well,
a red dirt road, a winging crow,
but not distance.
A rooster crowing, cows lowing in the evening,
wasps humming beneath the eaves, hounds
baying, hot grease, but not music.
My mother running away at fifteen,
my grandmother lifting a truck to save a life,
an uncle at Pearl Harbor, Webster sitting
at the back of the bus when he looked as white
as they did, but not stories.
The entrails of a slaughtered sow, the child born
with a goat's face, the cousin laid on a railroad
track, the fire that burned it all, but not death.
This poem, a snuff tin sated with the hair
of all our dead, my mother's long talks
with her dead father, my great-grandmother's
clothes passed down, passed down, but not memory.