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Weighing In

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What the scale tells you is how much the earth
has missed you, body, how it wants you back
again after you leave it to go forth

into the light. Do you remember how
earth hardly noticed you then? Others would rock
you in their arms, warm in the flow

that fed you, coaxed you upright. Then earth began
to claim you with spots and fevers, began to lick
at you with a bruised knee, a bloody shin,

and finally to stoke you, body, drumming
intimate coded messages through music
you danced to unawares, there in your dreaming

and your poems and your obedient blood.
Body, how useful you became, how lucky,
heavy with news and breakage, rich, and sad,

sometimes, imagining that greedy zero
you must have been, that promising empty sack
of possibilities, never-to-come tomorrow.

But look at you now, body, soft old shoe
that love wears when it’s stirring, look down, look
how earth wants what you weigh, needs what you know.

Rhina Espailat, "Weighing In" from Where Horizons Go. Copyright © 1998 by Rhina Espailat. Reprinted by permission of Truman State University Press.
Source: Where Horizons Go (Truman State University Press, 1998)
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Weighing In

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  • Rhina P. Espaillat was born in the Dominican Republic under the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo. After Espaillat’s great-uncle opposed the regime, her family was exiled to the United States and settled in New York City. She began writing poetry as a young girl—in Spanish and then English—and has published in both languages.
    Espaillat has published 11 poetry collections, including Lapsing to Grace (1992); Where Horizons Go (1998), winner of the 1998 T.S. Eliot Prize; Rehearsing Absence (2001), recipient of the 2001 Richard Wilbur Award; Playing at Stillness (2005); and a bilingual chapbook titled Mundo y Palabra/The World and the Word (2001).
    On Rehearsing Absence, Robert Shaw wrote in Poetry,“To Rhina Espaillat the quotidian is no malady . . . it is the source of inspiration. Hers is a voice of experience, but it is neither jaded nor pedantic. She speaks not from some cramped corner but from somewhere close to the center...

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