Card 19: The Sun

By Brenda Shaughnessy b. 1970 Brenda Shaughnessy
When you show yourself to the woman
you love, you don’t know your fear

is not fear, itself. You have never been good,
but now you are so good,

who are you? Is it the liquidity of her skin
that bathes the world for you,

or her face, captured like a she-lion
in your own flesh?

This summerbed is soft with ring upon ring
upon ring of wedding, the kind

that doesn’t clink upon contact, the kind
with no contract,

the kind in which the gold is only (only!) light.
Cloud covers and lifts,

and sleep and night and soon enough, love’s
big fire laughs at a terrible burn,

but only (only!) because pain absorbs excess
joy and you shouldn’t flaunt

your treasures in front of all day’s eyes.

Source: Poetry (September 2011).

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This poem originally appeared in the September 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2011
 Brenda  Shaughnessy

Biography

Brenda Shaughnessy earned a BA from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an MFA from Columbia University. She is the author of Interior with Sudden Joy (1999), Human Dark with Sugar (2008), winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, and Our Andromeda (2012). Her work has appeared in the Yale Review, the Boston Review, McSweeney’s, and Best American Poetry, among other places. With C.J. Evans, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Desire

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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