Guest poem submitted by Y. Lee:
(Poem #1468) Song Against Natural Selection
The weak survive! A man with a damaged arm, a house missing a single brick, one step torn away from the other steps the way I was once torn away from you; this hurts us, it isn't what we'd imagined, what we'd hoped for when we were young and still hoping for, still imagining things, but we manage, we survive. Sure, losing is hard work, one limb severed at a time makes it that much harder to get around the city, another word dropped from our vocabularies and the remaining words are that much heavier on our tongues, that much further from ourselves, and yet people go on talking, speech survives. It isn't easy giving up limbs, trying to manage with that much less to eat each week, that much more money we know we'll never make, things we not only can't buy, but can't afford to look at in the stores; this hurts us, and yet we manage, we survive so that losing itself becomes a kind of song, our song, our only witness to the way we die, one day at a time; a leg severed, a word buried: this is how we recognize ourselves, and why.
A celebration of human imperfection both exultant and melancholy, fierce and vulnerable. Somehow Hirsch turns the inevitable tragedy of loss into a uniqueness holding its own value. Pshaw to 'survival of the fittest'; the worthiest are those who have suffered and yet continue on. Beyond the message, I love the relentless rhythm of this piece that ever draws the eyes to the next line, the hint of past personal pain ("the way I was once torn / away from you"), and the role of speech, with a dropped word comparable to a severed limb. Edward Hirsch is an active poet and a recipient of the MacArthur "genius" Fellowship; he teaches and also seems to write a fair amount of prose on the subject of poetry. Y. Lee