Poem of the Week | April 23, 2013

This week we’re featuring a poem from our brand new “ladder” issue, the Spring Editor’s Prize 36.1. Darren Morris’s poems have appeared in journals including The American Poetry Review, The Southern Review, 32 Poems, Tongue: A Journal of Writing and Art, New England Review, and Raritan. His fiction was awarded a grant from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and his short story “The Weight of the World” won the 2011 Just Desserts Prize from Passages North.

Author’s Note:

Three of the poems are based on strange new fears that I’ve experienced since I started along the disappearing path of conception by technological means. Its failure presented and continues to present a different kind of future for my wife and me, and we are not quite out of wanting that other thing. It’s an absurd form of loss because it’s about losing what was never ours. Those poems simply explore what it means to persevere even when we know we will not persist. They are not about the fear of death but the fear of obliteration.

Fear of the Either/Or


The neighbors’ new baby is home now
from its little miracle, and we go by,
obligatory, with our skin-of-lion blanket
(so the dead will not disturb her passage)
and a rattle (to frighten in case they do).
Its enormous stretch and yawn, mammalian,
helpless. The unformed throat cords
lead to the primacy of voice and vibrate
like rosin across the bow. This sound shakes
against my wife’s endometrial canopy
that collects our effervescence, as if trumpeters
at the walls of Jericho, toppling them to ruin.


We’ve tried and failed for years. So
wanting a baby now seems almost perverse.
As if we have to do it. That it might fill
that dark seam in the sky that ripped opened.
That we must reorganize the air into an actual
future, rather than this endlessness. Or go
until we fall silent and no one remembers
how we inhabited each other, or wore these
skins—velutinous, honey-drenched—as lions.
How we fit together just so. How we shook
the rattle of our bones against the dead.