Poetry: Razing by Anna Newman
“Razing” is Anna Newman’s self-improvement letter to myself: a rummaging of pain and home and pine. Notice the urge to follow the speaker wherever she leads, even the false and the broken, even to a mirror for our own selves—that we may pick apart and shed what little fuzz of self we therein find.
What to do when the trees come down
is something we’ll need to construct.
Once, a deer ate right from our hand.
The hospital light’s got that little fuzz
I want to pick apart or shed. Sometimes
the pain comes up
hot needles, asking
for a label. Instead of a coin, I’m pushing
a zero through the hospital phone.
History’s coming apart a bit.
I can’t remember whose pain it was.
I don’t think I put my finger in the vodka glass,
or if I did, I most likely didn’t lick it off.
It was never the beautiful night
I thought it would be. It was never
the deer eating seed right out
of my palm, or me putting myself
together in some sort of narrative
where I was the gentle center of things
and better: everyone else knew.
It was gritty. It held on tight with tips
before everything got sucked
into a black memory zero.
Tomorrow in Michigan they’re razing
the pines. I thought ourselves into that forest
once, fast and sexless and
with hard hooves. I thought myself
right out of myself, built a house
instead of a body, the hose on, wasting water,
and later I added your unpaid gas bill,
the rosemary withered down to
sprigs, the purple fading out
until the house had no regal-
ness left, till it waited for someone to come back
and turn off –
this is my self-
improvement letter to myself: hello, you can come
out now and sign the bargain we made,
sign off on the pain that could be
our mother’s, the white pines they’re erasing
tomorrow in Michigan, the fawn that didn’t know
and its herd too far away
to fit it into a better story.
Anna Newman holds an M.F.A. from the University of Maryland. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best New Poets, Rattle, Tikkun, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.