“To believe in this living—”

All time is wasted.
I withered mine to space, nights
imperfecting formulas. Elegance
as :—: as
being both the church
and funk of always :—:
always a rumpled coverlet
we can’t imagine
sharing, having
shared.
I can’t turn to
the way flowers wilt, immediate
impulse, toward peonies’ pink lilt,
their lying down, droop, a silkening. And then
the urge to slink in
a pink slip. An elegance
in letting myself
go—
whither?—in that degree, to that

extent—as
the churchy hmmm of background singers
all humming their assent.

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon is the author of Open Interval, a 2009 National Book Award finalist, and Black Swan, winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, as well as Poems in Conversation and a Conversation, a chapbook collaboration with Elizabeth Alexander. She is currently at work on The Coal Tar Colors, her third poetry collection, and Purchase, a collection of essays. She teaches at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

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