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Published: Tue Mar 5 2024
Diego Isaias Hernández Méndez, Convertiendse en Characoteles / Sorcerers Changing into Their Animal Forms (detail), 2013, oil on canvas. Arte Maya Tz’utujil Collection.
Online 2024 Relationships Family Spirituality
From the Book of the Left Behind

But I did not sign on to watch this going,
​​​Who goes. Nor did I neglect, or lie down
With fraud or neighbor, or leave off

At some mistaken door. Nor did I cast your belongings
Out any open window, or pretend
A wound, or embellish, or mislead,

Distinct from broken promises;
Nor did I coerce from another,
Directly anyway. And who was afflicted

When I swore to be true; even in deep
I did not cry or transgress or grow proud
​​​​​As you blazed around the dark. Did not

Harrow the alone, listen in, set my mouth
Without cause; nor anger
After, by river waiting. Nor did I

Defile the animal, quick was my commitment
And in private; nor did I multiply much,
Or foul the water, or curse the children—

​​​​And never did I wonder whom I loved
​​​​​​Enough, and never ever will I eat my heart
To merely remember, which is also

To forget, as I vigil from where
You do not turn back; abiding
All for the weight of a feather.

Sophie Cabot Black has three collections out with Graywolf Press (The Misunderstanding of Nature, The Descent, and The Exchange). Her poetry has appeared in numerous magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, AGNI, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Poetry. Her newest collection, Geometry of the Restless Herd (Copper Canyon Press) is * * forthcoming in 2024. (updated 4/2024)

Black’s book The Misunderstanding of Nature was reviewed in AGNI 41 by Wyn Cooper.

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