Claudia Rankine is a poet, essayist, playwright and the editor of several anthologies. She is the author of five volumes of poetry, two plays and various essays.
Rankine was born in Kingston, Jamaica, she earned a BA at Williams College and an MFA at Columbia University. Rankine has published several collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric (2014), a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, the PEN Center USA Poetry Award, and the Forward poetry prize; Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (2004); and Nothing in Nature is Private (1994), which won the Cleveland State Poetry Prize.
After David Hammons
by Claudia Rankine
In the darkened moment a body gifted
with the blue light of a flashlight
enters with levity,
with or without assumptions, doubts, with desire,
the beating heart, disappointment, with desires
Stand where you are.
You begin to move around in search
of the steps it will take before you
are thrown back into your own body
back into your own need to be found.
Destinations are lost. You raise yourself.
No one else is seeking.
You exhaust yourself looking into
the blue light. All day blue burrows
the atmosphere. What doesn’t
belong with you won’t be seen.
You could build a world out of need
or you could hold everything
back and see. You could hold everything back.
You hold back the black.
You hold everything black.
You hold this body’s lack.
You hold yourself
back until nothing’s left
but the dissolving blues of metaphor.