Poetry: Distance by Jane Morton
Jane Morton’s latest poem burrows into the reader’s body and ripens there. In the end, “Distance” is a poem that tries to wrap around the gap of loss, asking us what it means to let go, to move on, to finally turn away.
I never want to talk about the past
until it ripens. Until time has softened
every detail to rot.
I never want to tell you how it felt
what we were doing. Unnamed and naked
down to the bone. I’ll only say
what I wanted
you to say. Make my body
ours; close my mouth
to any contradiction.
If I could, I would tell the truth
about us: the beds I burned
to get here. The ash I ate.
I’d retrace every step: the courthouse,
the needle, the summer
that sweated me through fall.
Instead I’ll ask about the likelihood
of rebirth, if a new body can be stripped
of old blood. I’ll name us
the answer. The truth is
I can only stand to look back
from a distance like a stranger, to watch us
fall how evening falls
so graceful, so inevitable you might forget
to be afraid of the dark.
The truth is I have always been the stranger:
no roots of my own. I keep taking
what doesn’t belong to me.
I never let go.