"Poetry is bigger than your feelings." - April Bernard
Erica Anderson-Senter is a poet who lives and writes in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Her poetry can be found in various publications online, and her first collection, Midwestern Poet’s Incomplete Guide to Symbolism, was published by EastOver Press in 2021. She graduated from the Writing Seminars at Bennington College in 2016. She joins us remotely by Zoom from her home.
Welcome to the Poets Weave. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey. Erica, what poems have you brought for us today?
QUALIFICATIONS FOR A LOVER
He pats the bed when you’re in your gray robe
as if you weren’t already thinking of the seismic
waves his hands make. He prepares a quick kimchi
with Persian cucumbers. He draws your face
and you’re prettier than you remember: delicate
as a chicory petal. His voice opens locked doors
and he hollers down canyons trying to find the craw-dad creek
you waded through at your babysitter’s house
the summer you turned ten. He creates time from rocks
and energy from sex and he gives it to you.
can you believe it?
He calls you “baby” when he’s happy
and he’s always happy because science says his name
is on every bone in every animal even if you have to use a microscope
to see it. He opens a recording studio in the back
of your favorite diner—he captures the sound of you drinking coffee.
He studies the slope of your nose: y = mx+b, he says
the b stands for boyish and that’s okay because it is, your nose.
He kisses it, your nose, says he thinks it’s perfect.
Nothing is perfect though—
because one day he wakes up from a nap swathed
in spring time sun, puts on his pants and shirt,
and just walks right now. He turns everything in your apartment
into a moon of salt.
THIS IS HOW A POET GETS OVER HEARTBREAK
I will not let myself walk/into the water/chasing his name./I will place stones/in my mouth, to gnash/my teeth in case/I ask him to come back/to that May morning./I will not let myself/build a boat to carry/the dead from one shore to another;/those sorry/sons-of-bitches can float.
Let the salt/dissolve the soft tissue of the eyeball/who needs it when/we are dead?/Who needs/a bed/when we are lonely?/Again, I’ll say: I/will not let myself/carve tiny hearts on class-/room desks. I will take/back my body from his hands or the memory of—/I will pour myself/a double and with a very sharp/knife, cut my withering/light and place/small morsels in my mouth, wet/ with want. I will—/and will not, and won’t, and /I swear to god/I’ll fight against the current:/strong legs breaking/his waves, sand on the tops of my feet.
TO THE RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD *
The drumming out my window announces your presence and I swear,
I don’t want that small miracle to become common-place.
I want to think sweetly of your industry:
rhythm of finding food, cadence of life. I want to think
of my own heart, in its wet cavity, beating for the same reasons:
food,life, food,life, food,life—blood all wishy-washy
through my small shell—never even contemplating
what it means to love. Let my heart be a heart; let’s not
tether it to the well-spoken, big grinned man who saunters
in slowly but leaves abruptly. Let my work, my incessant
drumming, my movement, be a tiny revolution.
I, shaking my fist under the moon, praise the heart (my heart),
the drumbeat and lilt of work: living and such.
You've been listening to poems by Erica Anderson-Senter on the Poets Weave. I'm Romayne Rubinas Dorsey.