Rankine: Two Poems : Magazine : A Public Space

Two Poems

Poetry Camille Rankine


I want to give you everything.
This is called a sickness.
By way of remedy, I am decorum
bound, swept

up and hushed. I forget myself.
I lay my goods down, lay my arms down
in the dust. Then it’s a heaviness
I borrow and am taught

to own. What’s mine is mine. What’s ours
is the stake, the hangman’s rope.
Then the cargo of dead unclaimed
that I cannot contain. I cast my doubt

upon the ground, I let
the arrows of my longing fly
toward the other shore.
I want to save you. This condition

is a viper’s poison. I am bitten, my limbless
sweet sliding under the brush.
I arrived in the first world heavy
fated with this vision. I lay hold

of everything in sight.
My arms are full, the other shore
besieged by longing. I am
a sickness. I want to give you more.


In the city, the climate is hostile, which suits me. The people are all demand:
a sequel, a protagonist, something new to fear. Without you, we are uneasy—
what disquiet in this lack, all this emptiness to fill. Your fury is insistent, a ringing
in my ear. The hazard is high, which heightens my desire. Intelligence suggests
we were designed this way, and the city, built to keep you out, keep me in
need. The high ground is under attack, but that struggle feels far away, while that
which I desire will eventually tire me—it’s more than I can bear: this interminable
want, turning and turning. The market responds favorably. Dear terror,
I come looking and I find you everywhere.
No. 21

No. 21


Camille Rankine’s first full-length collection of poetry, Incorrect Merciful Impulses, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press. She is also the author of Slow Dance with Trip Wire, which was selected by Cornelius Eady for the Poetry Society of America’s New York Chapbook Fellowship; and the recipient of a “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize.


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