"New Heavens, New Earth"
Melissa Range’s first book of poems, Horse and Rider, was a finalist for the 2011 Kate Tufts Discovery Prize and won the 2010 Walt McDonald Prize in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in The Paris Review, The Hudson Review, New England Review, and others. She is a recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and a “Discovery” / The Nation prize, and she has held residencies at Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. A graduate of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, she is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English and creative writing at the University of Missouri. “New Heavens, New Earth” originally appeared in Poetry London in 2006.
New Heavens, New Earth
Hammering down around the bends of TVA lakes;
twisting in the grip of grannies’ hand-wrung land sakes;
oozing from pump handles and bent cans of Luck’s
beans; hooting from nests in rusted, gutted trucks;
grazing on coneflowers; cropping up in landfill-stands
of chicory and timothy: such are this land’s bands
of angels, its chiggers, its scarecrow fodder,
its prophesying sons and daughters
hollering in ditches of purple thistle,
in the windward caterwaul and whistle
of my blood, my twanging tongue, gauging
scrapped tobacco fields, hexed factories, raging
past backroad Jesus junkie whitewashed crosses,
crying out from razed mountaintop rock the losses
they’ll not tell, by God, in anybody’s books—
the Walmarts and bright highways and ground shook
open for coal, sleek ores, and all the rest
that shines. But they sing, in miners’ chests,
in tractor treads, we are here, we are making
all things new; they poleax fences, they spring
from slurried wells; they burrow to the hearts
of crows; they wreck the dead tree’s death, the banker’s art;
they throb in graveyards, haybales, cohosh, clover,
with the vengeance of this land, which is never over.
Copyright (c) 2011 by Melissa Range. All rights reserved. Range will give a reading at the Hodges Library on the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville on November 7 at 7 p.m. She will also appear (with Darius Antwan Stewart and Clay Matthews) at Rogers-Stout Hall on the campus of East Tennessee State University on November 8 at 7 p.m.
Published Friday, 4 November 2011