2019 Antioch Fellowship, 3rd Place Winner: American Sonnet for the Argonauts by Joanna Ng
We’re all very excited to share with you the 2nd runner up of our Antioch Fellowship. Stay tuned for our second place poem by Madeleine Cravens next Wednesday, and our winner Momtaza Mehri ‘s poetry on the 22nd. Today, we have “American Sonnet for the Argonauts” by Joanna Ng—an investigation of America the boneharvester, the land of graves.
American Sonnet for the Argonauts
After Terrance Hayes
America, you beautiful boneharvester, you collect
the body and its labor and send back
rock, lustrous and glinty-eyed, pyrite and sulfur.
America, country, conditional — can you love me
in the body that I am in? Beyond this tender
dance of catching the light where it falls in the fire-
made crater, among the fever and gunfire, among
causes natural and unknown. Listen to the names
of our dead by bodies found mutilated, found burned,
found by bone fragment and not found at all.
America, how do I haunt when no-one remains? No
incense, no offering for my tilled spirit, nobody looking
after my grave. America, tell me again about the body
and the dream, how they had to break to be brimful of light.
Joanna Ng is a California-based poet. She received her BA and MA in English from UC Davis. She writes poems about ghosts, language and the Gold Rush.