Home > Poetry > The Wait
Published: Sat Oct 15 1988
Salman Toor, Fag Puddle with Candle, Shoe, and Flag (detail), 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Luhring Augustine, N.Y. Photo: Farzad Owrang.
The Wait

Each promise I break is toward a definition
Of god. Angels decay, the breakwaters return
Their low lives to water, the dunes

Slip monuments. Polite, I tried even
Loving a stranger. Into the dark woods to find treasure,
Then braved bringing it back into light—

Oh the light gristling down. There were places
I had to sit with my back against the wall,
Nights I talked because I thought talk

Would make night friendly. I tried silence
To hear everything, stopped making love
To keep the spinster happy. I let children

Sneak away from me, one by one into the dark,
Brutal and blank. I heard only one man say
He was sorry for the damage. I watched him

Walk away and come back, walk away and come back.
This planet loves insistence: people forgive
For acts they can’t remember. There’s been

No true dominion. I try to lose details as quickly
As possible. Fingers of land crumple into seagrass. The sun
Burns in the water. I wait for an honesty larger than my own.

See what's inside AGNI 27

Sophie Cabot Black received the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award for her first poetry collection, The Misunderstanding of Nature. Her poetry has appeared in numerous magazines, including The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, AGNI, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and Poetry. The Descent, a second collection of poems, received the 2005 Connecticut Book Award and was subsequently chosen as a “hot pick” on MSNBC’s program Topic A With Tina Brown. She teaches at Columbia University. (updated 4/2011)

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

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