The Gilded Zero

By Amy King Amy King
Only open homes & woods & pansies’ blue ledges
can lead the zero with his only arms
to embrace himself in open fields for all to gape upon.
He unbuttons steel-gray sheets, a knotted top coat,
bares himself, his hole, a vision
as framed by the marker that is
where
his body blew and left enclosure intact,
skeletal innards
enough to make moviegoers ask,
“Has anyone finished themselves yet?”
I haven’t. I swim the lagoon, take note:
the babies are barely dirty,
their armpits smooth with silky soot
weighted in apartment cycles like
we keep movement in boxes for thunderstorms,
and the railroad leaves a dancing behavior
absorbed by every second thought,
escaping the socket that was his mission,
his body incomplete, to help us
to the maidenhead of Niagara,
a target awakening
the chlorophyll of trees,
their tongues the densest forest
canopy and floor
thigh deep with root rot we sleep on and fold
into growing-whole sheep what becomes of the lot:
night’s zero hour
of what is & what isn’t, till death, not us part.

Amy King, “The Gilded Zero” from I Want to Make You Safe. Copyright © 2011 by Amy King. Reprinted by permission of Litmus Press.

Source: I Want to Make You Safe (Litmus Press, 2011)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Amy King

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, The Body, The Mind, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Amy  King

Biography

Raised in Baltimore and Georgia, Amy King holds a BS in English and women’s studies from Towson University, an MFA in poetry from Brooklyn College, and an MA in poetics from SUNY Buffalo. Her writing, which shows elements of Language poetry, has been influenced by her work with Charles Bernstein and Susan Howe in Buffalo, although she is also drawn to confessional and New York School poets. She has cited Cesar Vallejo, Gertrude . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Body, The Mind, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.