Sifting in the Afternoon

By Malachi Black Malachi Black
Some people might describe this room as spare:
a bedside table and an ashtray and an antique

chair; a mattress and a coffee mug;
an unwashed cotton blanket and a rug

my mother used to own. I used to have
a phone. I used to have another

room, a bigger broom, a wetter sponge.
I used to water my bouquet

of paper clips and empty pens, of things
I thought I’d want to say if given chance;

but now, to live, to sit somehow, to watch
a particle of thought dote on the dust

and dwindle in a little grid of shadow
on the sunset’s patchy rust seems like enough.

Source: Poetry (November 2009).


This poem originally appeared in the November 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

November 2009
 Malachi  Black


Malachi Black is the author of Storm Toward Morning (Copper Canyon Press, 2014) and two limited edition chapbooks: Quarantine (2012) and Echolocation (2010). A recipient of a 2009 Ruth Lilly Fellowship, Black has also received recent fellowships and awards from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the MacDowell Colony, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the University of Texas at Austin’s . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Home Life, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Activities, Indoor Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Couplet

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