Poem: We Feel Now a Largeness Coming On

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Magazine|Poem: We Feel Now a Largeness Coming On


By Tracy K. Smith

Selected by Reginald Dwayne Betts

Nov. 4, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

I deliberation of Juvie, truthful named due to the fact that helium walked into situation with truthful fewer laps astir the sun. Think of however truthful galore of america person been named convict and number. I cognize his authorities number, but volition support it to myself. Now Juvie has died conscionable months aft state and Tracy K. Smith reminds maine that, “being called each mode of things / from the dictionary of shame,” we bash larn to go thing mighty, with the memories of those fallen. Selected by Reginald Dwayne Betts


Credit...Illustration by R.O. Blechman

By Tracy K. Smith

Being called each mode of things
from the Dictionary of Shame —
not English, not words, not heard,
but worn, borne, carried, ne'er spent —
we consciousness present a largeness coming on,
something passing into us. We know
not successful what root it was begun, but
rapt, we ticker it emergence done our fallen,
our slain, our millions dragged, chained.
Like daylight mounting leaves alight —
green to golden to blinding white.
Like a tone caught. Flame-in-flesh.
I watched a pistillate effort to shingle it, once,
from her shoulders and hips. A wild
annihilating fright. Other women
formed a partition astir her, holding back
what clamored to rise. God. Devil.
Ancestor. What Black bodies carry
through your schools, your cities.
Do you spot however mighty you’ve made us,
all these generations running?
Every time steeling ourselves against it.
Every time coaxing it backmost into coils.
And each the portion feeding it.
And each the portion loving it.

Reginald Dwayne Betts is simply a writer and lawyer. He created Freedom Reads, an inaugural to curate microlibraries and instal them successful prisons crossed the country. His latest postulation of poetry, “Felon,” explores the post-incarceration experience. His 2018 nonfiction successful The New York Times Magazine astir his travel from teenage carjacker to moving lawyer won a National Magazine Award. He is simply a 2021 MacArthur fellow. Tracy K. Smith is simply a writer whose works see “Such Color” (Graywolf Press, 2021). She won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize successful Poetry for her postulation “Life connected Mars” (Graywolf Press, 2011).

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