Suzanne Gardinier is a global activist and author of several wide-ranging, dynamic poetry collections, including Iridium & Selected Poems 1986–2009 (2011), Today: 101 Ghazals (2008), and the long poem The New World (1993), which Lucille Clifton chose for the Associated Writing Program’s Award Series in Poetry. She has also published a collection of essays, A World That Will Hold All the People (1996). She is a recipient of the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry (1992), teaches at Sarah Lawrence and lives in Manhattan.
from “NIGHT JOURNEY”
for Mahmoud Darwish
Night now and the park lilacs hidden/without the revelation of blossom
The morning glories a tangle of old vine/clumped on the meadow’s chainlink fence
Glistening with ice in the streetlight/The lacy feather filaments
And the stripped lilac branches suggesting fragrance/by way of whispers to sharp ears like yours
As you were suggested that August day not/by the soldiers adjusting your roses on the bier
But by the boys playing hide and seek/under the rippling flag
Not by the president reciting/someone else’s words from a music stand
But by the women who pressed close to touch you/Your lovers who wrote your words on their shirts
In Gaza it’s tomorrow Is the girl still there/who put a strawberry in my hand
From the one field not razed She and her brothers/who knew your letters by heart
Dancing with you in the mystery of healing/Someone here tonight is attempting it
A homeless man Thinking he’s talking to no one/Blessing people he can’t see and singing
This is the seventh installment in The Spectator’s yearlong series featuring leading American poets who address issues of racism, human rights, and exile, among other social themes in their work. The project is curated by Cyrus Cassells, whose most recent book is Still Life With Children: Selected Poems of Francesc Parcerisas (Stephen F. Austin University Press). Night Journey is used by permission of Suzanne Gardinier.