As a part of this semester’s theme of community, the Kratz Center for Creative Writing sponsored an event series called “Poetry as Community,” bringing local poets to campus. In conjunction with this theme, the Q has asked student poets to send in their own poems. This issue features a poem by senior American Studies major Rowan Youngs.
Lamp in Three Parts
My friend was born with a lamp for a head.
She has lost the ability to discern between people who truly care about her and those who simply need the light.
It gets worse during the winter months—she’s almost no fun at all.
First and foremost: you are not valuable in isolation. It’s important that you learn this now, so that later when the sadness arrives it can operate un-impinged. Confusion clouds the waters, muddies that which is and that which could be. It’s important that you know this now, before you start to get any bright ideas haha, because the truth is that it can’t. Be, that is.
Without the detritus of the life you cast yourself upon there is simply no need. The necessity for your illumination comes with a qualifier, and it is everything aside from you. See the photo, strangled behind warped glass? See the plastic cup of milk, the lavender handkerchief it kisses and the spot on the couch where the cigarette fell between bare thighs? See the bird? That is the family bird. It is the color of bone marrow and it is loved. It must be seen, too.
You are the silent sentinel.
Function and form, at least theoretically. You specifically have not gotten any younger.
More than anything you are provider of choice. Choice. The moment they are not yet ready for the dark—That is your time. You are never to cry (you can’t) but if you have to (it’s not possible), don’t.
You will be positioned inconveniently. Behind a couch, at an oblique angle, half hidden behind the perennially desiccated ficus. You will be installed beneath a draft or by the bedside table of lovers gone sour. As they fuck, tangled in the stained periwinkle quilt she sewed over long nights in a desperate bid for wholeness you will mourn the loss of something vital and unspoken and you will not look away. You can’t look away, but more importantly, don’t turn from them. Never turn from them. After he wilts he will fix his eyes on the oil painting of a little boy, a little boy in a little house with a large dog and he will howl in the space that you yourself brighten. Isn’t that special? Isn’t that wonderful, how needed you are in this moment and all moments to come?
It came on in the night
Some dark summoning
Probably a test
I’ve heard of these things
Happening somewhere else but
The next morning, foggy, slide tomatoes and sea salt down my ripe gullet whole.
Gird yourself for the battle
Fall for your queen so that we might rise
Whorled pads against chilled glass
I begin to unscrew, one turn, two
Turn and turn and turn
Days pass and I look around.
There is dust at the corners of my eyes, tiny drifts like
Faded curtains hang open
I hope no one has seen me at work.