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Nancy Spero, currently on view at the MOMA in New York


is the body’s way
of weeping, after a series
of shocks is suffered, after the thrust
of things, the gist of things, becomes
apparent: the bolt is felt completely
swollen in vicinity to wrench,
the skid is clearly headed
toward an all-out insult, and the senses
one by one abandon all their stations—
into smaller hours and thinner
minutes, seconds
split—til POW—
you had it, had it coming, and it heaved, whose participle
wasn’t heaven.
Was that.
And when you got

some senses back,
you asked yourself, is this
a dignified being’s way
of being born? What
a thought
somebody had! (or some no-body)

out of the breathless blue, making us
double up like this, half gifted and
half robbed. ‘Rise up to me,’ the spirit

laughed. ‘I’m
coming, I’m coming,’
the body sobbed.

–Heather McHugh

Heather McHugh, born in California and raised in rural Virginia, studied with Robert Lowell during the time he taught poetry at Harvard.

About her work she has said, “I write because I want to find out what was bothering me . . . I’m not sure what it is that wants to be said, but I’m there to be its scribe…Almost always I’ve seen some pattern. Then comes a rocking and a humming. I find language to document that play of patterns in the world.”

(I especially like the part, “then comes a rocking and a humming.” Ah, yeah…!)