Constructive

By Heather McHugh b. 1948 Heather McHugh
You take a rock, your hand is hard.   
You raise your eyes, and there's a pair   
of small beloveds, caught in pails.
The monocle and eyepatch correspond.

You take a glove, your hand is soft.   
The ocean floor was done
in lizardskin. Around a log or snag   
the surface currents run

like lumber about a knot. A boat
is bent to sea—we favor the medium   
we're in, our shape's
around us. It takes time.

At night, the bed alive, what   
teller of truth could tell
the two apart? Lover, beloved,   
hope is command. Your hand

is given, when you take a hand.

Heather McHugh, “Constructive” from Hinge & Sign: Poems, 1968-1993. Copyright © 1994 by Heather McHugh. Reprinted with the permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Hinge & Sign: Poems 1968-1993 (Wesleyan University Press, 1994)

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Poet Heather McHugh b. 1948

POET’S REGION U.S., Northwestern

 Heather  McHugh

Biography

Poet Heather McHugh’s work is noted for its rhetorical gestures, sharp puns and interest in the materials of language itself—her self-described determination is “to follow every surge of language, every scrap and flotsam.” Describing her work in the Boston Review, poet and critic Richard Howard alleged that “most of McHugh’s poems end in a spurt, as they proceed in a slather, of just such astonishment as is bestowed—afforded—by . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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