By Kwame Dawes
Tennessee Hill’s South emerges in her poem as a character, a personage that haunts and possesses her with beauty and a certain disquiet. Her poem, “Crater Heartk,” moves from fragmentary image to simile to metaphor in a seemingly disjointed fashion, that in the end, becomes a composition of arresting beauty: “I have stuffed the South’s nightlights/in my mouth.” Perhaps this is how she wants us to read her poem of elegant strangeness.
Such strangeness these days.
Morning rising over my head
like the quilt sewn of old t-shirts
or saltwater waves
licking our sun-bleached dock.
Then–you absorbing moment, you
harvest queen–the sky is surprised
by evening’s orchard.
I have stuffed the South’s nightlights
in my mouth. Gala of fireflies.
How clumsy I feel in front of God.
Poem copyright 2022 by Tennessee Hill, “Crater Heart” from the Adroit Journal Issue, Forty-One. American Life in Poetry is made possible by the Poetry Foundation and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited submissions.