crossing into canaan

By D. A. Powell b. 1963

Then there came again and touched me one like the appearance of a man, and he strengthened me—Daniel 10:18

febrile body I woke into: nightsweats, stink of the toil of living:   

where hands could not bear to approach me, the young man fingered

lay upon me, was himself a cool sponge, drew my perspiration to his lips
ice-chips he held in his teeth, he pushed small bergs into my mouth

caressed the skeletal arms I’ve hidden in long sleeves
kissed neck and chest, belly rotten with pudgy organs, thick-set flesh

he pressed against me, cock on cock and tongue against tongue
saw his reflection in my marshy eyes and did not flinch such weakness

held, sustained by this capable stroke, boatswain of my crossing

I take the death I’m moored to, announced as a measureless promontory
and bob in the river like a bloated corpse, blue lips, vacant gaze

I let the water fill my lungs until they rip their festive piñatas
because the one who comes to gather me, capricious angel

has a voice that affirms me rising when this fever abates

For Haines Eason

D.A. Powell, “crossing into canaan,” from Poetry (September 2006). Copyright © 2006 by D.A. Powell.

Source: Poetry (September 2006).


This poem originally appeared in the September 2006 issue of Poetry magazine

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September 2006
 D. A. Powell


Born in Albany, Georgia, D.A. Powell earned an MA at Sonoma State University and an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His first three collections of poetry, Tea, (1998), Lunch (2000), and Cocktails (2004), are considered by some to be a trilogy on the AIDS epidemic. Lunch was a finalist for the National Poetry Series, and Cocktails was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry. His next two books were . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, Health & Illness, Living, Love, Growing Old, Relationships, Christianity, Desire, Heartache & Loss


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