Meditation on the Sources of the Catastrophic Imagination

By Lucie Brock-Broido b. 1956 Lucie Brock-Broido
Green as alchemy and even more scarce, little can be known
Of the misfortunes of a saint condemned to turn great sorrows

Into greater egrets, ice-bound and irrevocable. The wings were left ajar
At the altar where I've knelt all night, trembling, leaning, rough

As sugar raw, and sweet. From the outside, peering in, it would seem
My life had been smooth as a Prussian ship gliding on the bridegroom

Of her Baltic waters in a season of no wind. Tinny empire,

Neighborhood of Bokhara silks, were you to go, I would stop—simply
                                As a pilgrim putting down his cup. Most of my life,

I had consorted with the unspeakable, longing to put my mouth
On it. I was just imagining. I can be

Resumed. Some nights, I paint into the scene two Doves,
I being alternately one and then the other, calling myself by my kind.

                                                  In the living will if it says: Hydrate. Please.
Hydration only. Do not resume me then.

Lucie Brock-Broido, "Meditation on the Sources of the Catastrophic Imagination" from Stay, Illusion. Copyright © 2013 by Lucie Brock-Broido.  Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Published with arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of The Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, a division of Random House LLC.

Source: Stay, Illusion (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013)

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

Poet Lucie Brock-Broido b. 1956

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Health & Illness, Life Choices, The Body, The Mind

 Lucie  Brock-Broido

Biography

Lucie Brock-Broido was born in Pittsburgh, was educated at Johns Hopkins and Columbia University, and has taught at Bennington, Princeton, Harvard (where she was a Briggs-Copeland poet), and Columbia. She is the recipient of fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as awards from the American Poetry Review and the Academy of American Arts and Letters.

In an interview with Carol Maso for BOMB magazine in . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Health & Illness, Life Choices, The Body, The Mind

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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.