Christina Pugh

She said she saw, Maya Lin and At night, I tried
October 20, 2020 Pugh Christina

from The Right Hand

She said she saw her own veins
branching when she closed her eyes:
the eyelid’s imprint like a cloth
crazed in cross-stitch. Or thatched,
I tried to think. Then closed my own
eyes to find my inner eyelid. It’s not
very starry. It is not even color.
It’s the closest my body
comes to the conceptual.


from The Right Hand

Maya Lin made a river out of pins.
The pins on the wall marked the Hudson’s movements.
Like a battlefield, or a soul pierced by arrows.
When the pins clustered thickly, like crescendo in music–
This was where the wall was wounded deepest.

To interrupt pain feedback loops, try writing with your non-dominant hand.

At night, I tried to write with my right hand.
My pen stubbed the paper, then trailed leggy
glyphs on squares. I copied lines, Whose woods
these are
. And 1, 2, 3, 4: primary numbers.
The curviest letters were the hardest thing–
I skittered half a gambrel roof to try to end
an h. Such ungainly posture in my wilting
fingers as they trudged the weird
frontier of the page. My wrist had to
double back, sniffing with its snout.

Christina Pugh’s fifth book of poems, Stardust Media (University of Massachusetts Press, 2020), was awarded the Juniper Prize for Poetry. She is also the author of four previous books of poems, including Perception (Four Way Books, 2017), which was named one of the best poetry books of 2017 by Chicago Review of Books; and Grains of the Voice (Northwestern University Press, 2013).  Her poems have appeared in The Atlantic, Poetry, Kenyon Review, Colorado Review, Yale Review, and many other publications. She has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in poetry, as well as fellowships and awards from the Poetry Society of America, the Illinois Arts Council, the Bogliasco Foundation, and others.  She is Professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago