The God of Inattention

By Averill Curdy Averill Curdy
After the trumpets, after the incense   
There were nights insomnia fathered gods   
I then rejected as too angry or distracted,   
Or whose appetite for submission revealed   
Their own lack of faith.   Say our names,   
All synonyms for trust. Others spoke   
In sugared paradox:  To know is to know   
All. To not know all is not to know. To know   
All requires that you know very little,   
But to know that little you have to know   
All . And for a while, it's true,   
I burned in the dark fires of ambivalence,   
My attention consumed like oxygen.   
I'd wake up tired, as I had with the married man   
Whose strictures and caprice begat,   
And begat, and begat, and begat   
My love for him, harvesting the same      
Silence from my bed. Who listens   
To my penitential tune? Who accepts   
My petitions for convenient parking,   
For spring, for the self illuminated   
Across a kitchen table, for . . . for   
Fortitude? I've heard a voice, I'm sure,   
Advising me to drop this sentimental farce.   
Only to hold the smoke of their names   
Again in my mouth I'd resurrect   
The dead, or adopt the gods orphaned   
By atheists, except the gods they've made   
From disbelief no one's faith could tolerate.   
Refusing to make the same mistake   
Just once, I've cried out to the dark   
Many names, most given up as routinely   
As the secrets of friends. If you're a cup      
Will my lips profane your own? If a comb      
Will I feel your teeth against my neck?      
If a wall I will be darker than your shadow.   
And if a door I will unlatch you, letting in   
All the little foxes from the vineyard.

Source: Poetry (May 2004).


This poem originally appeared in the May 2004 issue of Poetry magazine

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May 2004
 Averill  Curdy


A lyric poet influenced by Donne, Hopkins, Merrill, and Auden, Averill Curdy notes, “In my own work, the aural quality and weight of words is very important and I think it’s partly an attempt to make them feel as material as the smears of color on a painter’s palette.” Her meditative, dense lines are smoothed by time; as Curdy explains, “I write slowly—always, it seems, at the very limit of what I know.”

Curdy began to write . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Relationships, Religion, Faith & Doubt, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Metaphor, Persona

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