Poem from Slate: “History”

Image source: http://thisgurllovesjune.blogspot.com

This week’s featured poem from Slate is entitled History and is written by Angie Estes. As always, I’d like to encourage you all to check out the audio version of this poem, as read by Angie Estes on the Slate arts webpage. This poem in particular has some great images and truly evocative language, so check it out!

According to the bio on her website, Angie Estes has been published very widely in her career. She is the author of four books, the most recent one being Tryst (Oberlin College Press, 2009), which was selected as one of two finalists for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. Her first book, The Uses of Passion (1995), was the winner of the Peregrine Smith Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in many literary magazines such as The Paris ReviewPloughsharesand Boston Review. Her essays have appeared in FIELD, Lyric Poetry Review, and Little Women: Norton Critical Edition. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, and many grants and residencies. She is on the faculty of Ashland University’s low residency MFA program.

History, by Angie Estes

Mallarmé said that Loie Fuller, with the wing
of her skirt, created space
like the new convertible
brought home by the neighbors
on our block: at first a question mark
in the sky, then rising above them
half a parenthesis until only
a comma was left behind, the shape
of their hands as they waved
down the street. “We ought to say a feeling
of and, a feeling of if, a feeling of
but, and a feeling of by,” William James
claimed, “quite as readily as we say
a feeling of blue or a feeling
of cold,” but Leonardo’s double-helix
staircase at Château Chambord wraps
its arms around its own quiet
center, makes sure that the person going
up and the one coming down
never meet. The empty spaces, Conrad
said of maps, are the most interesting
places because they are
what will change. So was it he
who invented pinto horses, taught
the mockingbird to keep not one
but two blank patches beneath
its wings? We could hear
the car radio as they drove
away, Elvis insisting I’ll be yours
through all the years, ‘til the end of
. From Latin cor,
for heart, to remember
in Spanish, recordar, means to pass
once more through the heart
the way the blood keeps coming
back for another tour, another
spin around the block. The yellow-
orange sash flapping past the window
was memorable, a memorial, so much
like an oriole or the scarf that keeps
circling the past’s held
note: parked by the curb, the wisteria
was all ears, a hysteria of listening.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s poem from Slate, and I hope you listened to it as well!

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan


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