Issue > Poetry
D Nurkse

D Nurkse

D. Nurkse is the author of eleven poetry collections, most recently Love in the Last Days: After Tristan and Iseult (Knopf, 2017). He is the recipient of a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize (UK).  

Your Childhood in Brooklyn

1
Remember when the war was close
as a mosquito in your ear?

We begged the church bells: please stop at twelve!
Or else be a marriage or a funeral.


All night sirens, full of themselves,
peaked and receded, breaking like voices,
just vowels, ridiculously close—

Saint Luke, Maimonides, Methodist, the firehouse—
be always there, in that corner of the mind,
never go silent, don't all wail at once.


2
Remember how we pinned each other down
as if to draw a line around the body?

How we took our places on the diamond,
pitcher, catcher, ash silhouettes on coal?

How we explained to Little Sister:
not just us, but the elms, the crickets,
the grouchy squirrels, the white star Deneb—


Why the star, she asked: won't the star last?

Because it relies on us, dumb-ass.
The night sky can't shine by itself.

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