Home > Poetry > Carapace
Published: Wed Oct 15 1986
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.

I am growing mine
though I have regretted yours.

_        She says, ‘Sure I saw him: he wanted_
_        to run, the Guardia Civil_
_        shot him before he reached the patio wall._
_        Do I understand “subversive”? Yes,_
_        the word means_
_        people who know their rights,_
_        if they work but don’t get enough to eat_
_        they protest. He was_
_        a lay preacher, my father,_
_        he preached the Gospel,_
_        he was subversive.’_

_        She is 12._

My shell is growing
nicely, not very hard, just
a thin protection but it’s
better than just skin. Have you
completed yours? It seems
there will be chinks in it though,
the cartilaginous
plates don’t quite meet, do yours?

_        A 9 year old boy whose father has ‘disappeared’ three weeks now,
asked how he feels, says
with the shrug of a man of sixty,
‘sad.’ He nods. ‘Yes; sad…’_

That burning, blistering glare
off the world’s desert
still pushes in; oh, filter it, grow faster,
hide me in shadow,
_         _my carapace!

See what's inside AGNI 23

Denise Levertov (1923–1997) was the author of twenty-three collections of poetry as well as four books of prose and three translations of poetry. She continued composing poetry while battling leukemia, and The Great Unknowing: Last Poems (New Directions, 2000) was published posthumously.

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