Habakkuk / Ishion Hutchinson

Ishion Hutchinson was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica. He is the author of Far District and House of Lords and Commons. Hutchinson directs the graduate writing program at Cornell University.

HABAKKUK

Your mind’s seasonal Florentine – darkness
and dereliction. Rugged Amore
on ponte vecchio in stone-washed jeans,
vexed-face after seeing Habakkuk’s face
rimmed with sweat, glaring into the crowd
and the sun. His unchanging solace
makes you turn towards the love god, who sighs,
“Quando fia ch’io ti riveggia?”
Who can say when when extinction is near?
Then your petrose flickers across the bridge.
Fatal and fated, her broken stares burn
the river’s mirrored silence, TE DEUM.
You baulk praises. Noon tilts its damp ashes
on the Duomo, not her dress of poppies.
Bridal wisps of smoke forge the hills in place;
perpetual hills, earlier, she scorned
like washed-out curial robes or family
banners at standoff. Belfries mime lament.
Amore defects, to Akeldama;
horseflies push you and her back to the square.
“Damn you,” she says. “Speak, damn you.” The prophet
refuses, picks up his string instrument,
leaves. She goes off. Nostalgia is exile’s
slippery sequence, which, this time, amid
dispersals, you grasp and knot tight her voice
crossing, self-effaced, unbearably bright.

/ Photo: Ladan Osman

This poem has also been published in TLS.

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