Poem of the Week | June 15, 2015

This week we’re delighted to feature a new poem by Eric Pankey. Pankey is the author of ten collections of poetry. His next collection Crow-Work is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions. He is currently the Heritage Chair in Writing at George Mason University, where he teaches in the BFA and MFA Programs.
Author’s note:

This poem is part of a series of lyric poems, all eighteen lines, six tercets long, whose titles begin “Speculation on. . .” , for instance, “Speculation on the History of Drawing,” “Speculation on Invisibility,” and “Speculation on the Absent God.” Their work is, I think, the normal work of lyric poems: to speculate for a moment on a moment, to confront questions, but not necessarily to answer them through the medium of language. These poems will be gathered in a book, Augury, forthcoming in 2017 from Milkweed Editions, in which speculation and auguring—the attempt at coming to knowledge and/or understanding—are the method and subject of the poems.


Speculation on Suffering


On a Babylonian bas-relief,
An antelope fawn’s
Forelegs collapse;


Neck taut, it swings
Its head back
As a lion latches


Onto its hindquarters.
How stable a moment
Of suffering:


Fixed and fused to flesh,
The fold at the forward
Corner of the fawn’s eye


Giving in, it looks like,
To sleep, yet the eye
Is wide open,


Attentive, not resigned,
But fraught, fearful,
Consumed by seeing.