Thursday, September 3, 2020

Poems of Persistence, Solidarity, and Refuge – Kim Roberts

We are each other's harvest; we are each other's business; we are each other's magnitude and bond.  ― Gwendolyn Brooks  

Split This Rock Virtual Open Mic announcement includes a black background with red Split This Rock logo, text that reads "Virtual Open Mic," and an illustration of a hanging lamp sending out rays of light over a laptop.
As we journey through political, economic, and global health crises, we turn to poetry to share truths that unearth underlying causes, illuminate impacts, and insist on transformative change. For many of us, today’s challenges are not new. The struggle of isolation, economic insecurity, inadequate medical care, deadly institutionalized negligence, governmental decisions that put Black, Brown, Indigenous, Asian, disabled, sick, and other structurally precarious people at greater risk are not new. Today, many more people are experiencing the vulnerability of these unrelenting issues. We recognize this opportunity for a heightened awareness of how our very survival depends on one another.

Poetry can help keep the flame of resilience, solidarity, and resistance alive in us. It can help us process and move through grief, anger, loneliness. Poetry can be a comfort when the most necessary actions are to rest and recover. It can remind us of what’s at stake, that our lives and legacy are worth the fight. As cultural workers, we know that culture shapes our political and social imagination at a foundational level. As poets, we can use poetry to map what is, what has been, and possibly, the way forward, including the reasons not to return to what does not honor and protect our lives, our communities, and our planet.

We asked poets to give us the words they chant to get out of bed, to raise their fists, to encourage their kin, to remind us, as this crisis does, that “we are each other’s business; we are each other’s magnitude and bond.” To read all of these poems, visit Split This Rock’s website.


Order Ephemeropta, The Mayfly Family
By Kim Roberts

Each Spring coffin flies,
ephemera guttulata, emerge from the water
in tangled skeins, in hordes.

They mature in a matter of hours.
At dusk they mate in midair,
then in vast regiments

attack light: street lights, lamps
seen through glass panes. Underneath
the yellow porch light of the lake house,

the bodies pile up a foot deep.
Thoreau wrote, Am I not partly leaves
and vegetable mould myself?

Life spends itself so cheaply.
The pale amber wings, veined
with these fragile runes, lap

against one another like loose shingles.
In the morning, gathered in my dustpan,
death weighs almost nothing.

Listen as Kim Roberts reads "Order Ephemeropta."

Published in The Southern Review, Spring 2019

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