• Poem for a Man I Thought I’d Never See Again

    Sarah Manguso

    Fall 2020

    I knew a man once whose grandfathers were preachers
    and whose sister was a beauty queen.
    He lives in Nebraska, and because of him
    I’ve stayed out of Nebraska for sixteen years.
    I thought the feeling might be there, and if I found it again—
    what marrows were sacrificed to it,
    as one offers the innermost parts to the gods!

    And what more would we have burned.

    Then I saw him in Georgia, at a conference for writers.
    We even touched—a forearm on a shoulder,
    a wrist across a back, like skeletons embracing.
    The feeling wasn’t in my body.
    Nor was it in his body or in the space between us.
    I was surprised, for I’d thought it might be,
    and I’d thought maybe I wanted it back.
    It was just that I’d never seen anything like it,
    what it made him do to his wife.

    Sarah Manguso is the author, most recently, of 300 Arguments and Ongoingness. She lives in Los Angeles and teaches at Antioch University.

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