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Landscape Without You

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Roofers scrape the scaly lid
of an auto shop beside the house
where I live. Where I live
shirtless men tear at the black

scabs of a roof's old flesh, toss
scraps into the back of a truck
parked in the lot next to a house
where I live. Where I live

a tarp rattles at night, plastic
rustles, and trash is kicked along
pavement by wind. Roofers
curse and shell the tire shop's

peeling lid beside the house
where I live. Where I live
a tarp shakes all night; cans
land on pavement, tossed from

windows of cars that blur by
where I live. Where I live
windows are ladled red with
light your sun leaves me with.

Repairs are made to roofs which
will never cover me. As I read
the road between us, tire tracks
unscroll their tawdry calligraphy.

Any day now you shall arrive, roar
into my eye with your mountainside.
Where I live when I live where
landscape cannot survive you.

Cate Marvin, "Landscape Without You" from World’s Tallest Disaster. Copyright © 2001 by Cate Marvin. Reprinted by permission of Sarabande Books, Inc., www.sarabandebooks.org.
Source: World's Tallest Disaster (Sarabande Books, 2001)
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Landscape Without You

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  • Cate Marvin was raised in Washington, DC and earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Houston, an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a PhD in English and comparative literature from the University of Cincinnati. Her poetry collections include World’s Tallest Disaster (2001), which won the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry, Fragment of the Head of a Queen (2007), and Oracle (2015). Marvin coedited, with Michael Dumanis, the anthology Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century (2006)
    Marvin uses her work to explore how English language literary traditions butt up against American English in forms traditional and innovative, narrative and lyrical. Issues of gender and violence are of primary concern throughout her three volumes of poems. As such, she is interested in how American identity collides with the English language, focusing heavily on language play and on the intersection of identity, language, and the natural landscape.

    In 2009 Marvin co-founded VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts (with poets Erin...

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