Poem of the Week | July 19, 2021

This week’s Poem of the Week is “Emergence” by Kiyoko Reidy!

Kiyoko Reidy is a poet from east Tennessee. She currently lives in Nashville, where she is an MFA candidate at Vanderbilt University. Her poems and nonfiction have been published or are forthcoming in Sugar House Review, Chestnut Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, and elsewhere.



            “Every block of stone has a statue inside it
            and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.”
                       – Michelangelo

As though the sculptor in charge of crafting
his delicate features suddenly got it right,

the face belonging to him emerging
from the stone a little more with every day

sober. So many years of him wearing
someone else’s mouth, its bitter slackness,

and the wrong eyes, light-averse
and flighty, rolling like struck cue balls

in their dark hollows. His cheeks no longer sag
like damp rags from the bones of his face.

And my god, I have never seen a man eat
like this, as though it were the first time

he tasted the berry’s sweet bite, the steak’s
rich juice filling his mouth like revelation.

When his jaw works the fatty meat, the metrical click
of his mandibles from years of panicked grinding

is what remains of his old self, the creature
of midday darkness that once stalked through

my brother’s life. I know he still feels the ghosts
of his old appetites roiling his good blood, pacing

the long hallways lined with doors to relapse.
But now, at least now, he’s a man who smiles

with his own mouth, blinks his own eyes, moves
with a body relearning the possibilities

of control—to trust the body’s weight against
the insistent pull of great heights, steady

hands to mark the chisel’s precise angle.
Day after day the angel in the marble

must carve himself free.


Author’s Note

Over the last year and a half, my younger brother has been recovering from addiction and mental health issues. Throughout the course of his recovery, he has consistently found his way into my poems—writing about it was the only way I could gain enough distance to process everything that was happening. There were many hard days, and many hard poems. Despite the ongoing process of recovery, this poem is one of joy. It is a celebration of life, of change, of my brother finding his way back to himself.