Major Jackson

Pathetic Fallacy
October 13, 2013 Jackson Major

Pathetic Fallacy


Jog through this suburb at a blue hour
when bliss blows over dewy lawns
and neighbors walk suspicious dogs
inhaling trunks of oaks and birches
like a posse of pet detectives, and roused
yet cautious, a first mourning dove sings.

Ponder your existence, which someday will
no longer animate the world of creatures
and aviaries.

Could your limbs survive without always
naming the flawless cathedrals of leaf-branches
entwining above your head?

Isn’t this what you meant by truly living?
Do you believe it?

Did you mistreat the vowels?
When did you begin to speak, you who love
the grace of a fireplace, its morning ash
the aftermath of a desperate battle?

You, too, were trying to recover
the myth of Philomela in your own time,
in your own district, in a tenement
built for the wounded and discontent.

Those early days you lived in shadows,
speechless from what you could not name,
yet its absence ever present and growing in
a field peopled by your metaphoric propositions.
You turn onto Circle Drive — a dragonfly
inspects the dark city of your head.

Major Jackson is the author of four collections of poetry: Roll Deep (2015, Norton); Holding Company (2010, Norton); Hoops (2006, Norton); and Leaving Saturn (2002, University of Georgia Press). Holding Company and Hoops were both selected as finalists for an NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry; and Leaving Saturn, awarded the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for a first book of poems, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry. He has published poems and essays in AGNI, American Poetry Review, Callaloo, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Poetry, Tin House, and in Best American Poetry (2004, 2011). He is a recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and has been honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress.