poetry 0
Stephanie Burt


Not the sense of standing alone
in front of a microphone,
but the adjustments of playing along
with a more experienced band.

Not the fear of representing
an establishment, but of representing it badly,
of being inundated and then shipped home.

The scallops whose breathing
tubes pop up
above the receding salt water,
through the overlaps of sand.

The fear you’ll sink like a skipped stone.

The past, as it grows
away from you, is thickening.

The young reader in the too-often-washed
Avengers T-shirt with the collar cut out had asked
“How do you deal with the fear of existing?”

The insubstantial feeling
that came to you then, the vertigo,
and the quickening.

Stephanie Burt is Professor of English at Harvard. Her most recent books include After Callimachus (2020) and Don’t Read Poetry: A Book About How to Read Poems (2019). A chapbook of poems about superheroes and other queer pop cultural phenomena will be out from Rain Taxi Editions by the time you read this issue of this magazine; a full-length book of new poems will appear from Graywolf in 2022.