About the Feature

to make one thing of me, writes Rilke
or to “work me, Lord” as Janis sings
like a field song, mocking
-bird variations
for which I can find no equivalent, and no sooner
have I written this down than
I want to post it on a screen where I can see all
manner of bodies burned, burdened, crushed
by the weight of factories, here stitched into this night-
gown, look up from this screen, which holds all manner
of soldiers before/during/after their tours of Afghanistan,
drones, the actress
like some character in a Greek tragedy who cuts off her breasts,
now flickering before me, cold candle, a fire
I cannot feel hums through me particle sure as any unseen cancer
or cracks in the wall of the garment factory (“work me, Lord”)
covered in paint

why must man always take on things
map galaxies, name particles
while factories burn, ash rises to satellites,
the question I carry around like a locket
with a dead child’s hair, the question
of dead children comes
with mine
begins “the world
which is economic system does not care”
and in the wilderness beyond which is particle attraction
and distraction I slip from the grip of garment

factory fire, to ask
over and over:
can you take it all
in, galaxy after galaxy, open your eyes sky wide
through love or force or training?

let’s remember this sky
and beneath the factory workers like a thought
that dark matter thinks, fluttering candles,
let’s place ourselves under the hood of night
you can’t gate this, razor wire, Guantanamo Bay this
the hospice nurse says rest
in the space between breaths
place yourself,
let there be space, too, in your gaze, let there be nurse
before you check your status update, wash clothes,
pull up the rug,
like my status update, my revolutionary status update



About the Author

Susan Briante is the author of Pioneers in the Study of Motion and Utopia Minus, both published by Ahsahta Press. She is finishing work on a new collection of poems, titled “The Market Wonders.” She is an associate professor of creative writing at the University of Arizona.

Image by Rajesh Pamnani