Angie Estes

Nice Dark One
August 13, 2018 Estes Angie

Nice Dark One


Yours is a noble bio, one note

played by an oboe: loon, loan,

loin. Like Christ on the crucifix

in La Sagrada Familia, encircled

by clusters of grapes dangling

from a parasol as if he were

on the parachute ride

at the fair, new moon, you must find

your inner vinter, rent

a rite, a vein: nite nite.

Instead of a stone, roll

the rhododendrons back,

back to Rhodes before the island

arose from the sea because I am practicing

giving up the scarlet Cardinal who sits

each morning on the feeder, cracking

a black oil sunflower seed

with his beak or sometimes swiping

a seed and flying off to place it

in the mouth of his peachy

mate before they both fly off

to the neighbor’s Burning Bush,

where they build their nest

each spring. All morning

he hyperventilates like the

rubber doll I squeezed in

my hand when I was a child, the one born

with a metal navel

in its back, but there is never

enough wind to blow out

the low-lit candles of last year’s

beech leaves still lifted

in the forest. At the close

of the evening service, they always

sang “Just As I Am” and “Let

the Lower Lights Be Burning”—

still, I am practicing

giving up evening, Brunello,

gelato alla nocciola, and finally, as

Zen masters urge, giving up

the i in desire.  But what

will paradise be without i, the lost

paradise, the only one, Proust says,

that is true.




Angie Estes is the author of six books of poems, most recently Parole (Oberlin College Press, 2018). Her previous book, Enchantée (Oberlin, 2013), won the 2015 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize and the 2014 Audre Lorde Poetry Prize, and Tryst (Oberlin, 2009) was selected as one of two finalists for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize. Her second book, Voice-Over, won the 2001 FIELD Poetry Prize and was also awarded the 2001 Alice Fay di Castagnola Prize from the Poetry Society of America. Her first book, The Uses of Passion, was the winner of the Peregrine Smith Poetry Prize. The recipient of many awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize and the Cecil Hemley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, she has also received fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.