Poem: Albeit – The New York Times

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Carolina Ebeid’s spring-ish poem is filled with mysteries, starting with the title and first line that launch us in medias res, making us feel as if we’re eavesdropping. A few lines down, a “bee-hive made of glass” becomes “An observatory/of translucent arteries/lit with wing-gossip.” I admire how this poem moves in strange but wholly natural ways, shifting from the hive to something larger. The final three lines are unexpected and remind me how enjoyable it can be to follow a poet into her own particular Eden. Selected by Victoria Chang

By Carolina Ebeid

Because I have wanted
to make you something

beautiful, I borrowed
a book on how to keep

a bee-hive made of glass.
An observatory

of translucent arteries
lit with wing-gossip.

An allegory for the soul.
Though what do I understand

of beauty that thrives
in a place of exile.

(Bees can anger so.
A grist of killers has swarmed
a boy beneath the windowsill.)
You said the soul-to-be.

Vegetables flower
outside. Squash-blossoms.

& for what is that
an allegory?

We live in a copy
of Eden, a copy

that depends on violence.

Victoria Chang’s fifth book of poems, “Obit” (Copper Canyon Press, 2020), was named a New York Times Notable Book and a Time Must-Read. Her book of nonfiction, “Dear Memory: Letters on Writing, Silence and Grief,” was published by Milkweed Editions in 2021. She lives in Los Angeles and teaches in Antioch University’s M.F.A. program. Carolina Ebeid is a poet whose debut collection, from which this poem is taken, is “You Ask Me About the Interior” (Noemi Press, 2016).


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