Iowa Writes

JANE MEAD
The Argument Against Us


The line of a man's neck, bent
over welding, torchlight breaking
shadows on his face, hands cracked
into a parched map of fields he has woken—
the gods wanted us.

Think of their silent preparation:
the creature who left the rocking waves behind,
crawling up on some beach, the sun
suddenly becoming clear. Small thing
abandoning water for air, crooked body
not quite fit for either world, but the one
that finally made it. Think of all the others.

Much later, spine uncurls, jaw pulls back, brow-bone
recedes, and as day breaks over the dry plain
a rebellious boy takes an upright step
where primitive birds are shrieking above him.

The line of a man's neck, bent
over welding, torchlight breaking
shadows on his face, hands cracked
into a parched map of fields he has woken—
the gods wanted us.

Think of their silent preparation:
the creature who left the rocking waves behind,
crawling up on some beach, the sun
suddenly becoming clear. Small thing
abandoning water for air, crooked body
not quite fit for either world, but the one
that finally made it. Think of all the others.

Much later, spine uncurls, jaw pulls back, brow-bone
recedes, and as day breaks over the dry plain
a rebellious boy takes an upright step
where primitive birds are shrieking above him.

He did it for nothing. He did it
against all odds. Bone of wrist, twist
of tooth, angel of atoms—an infinity
of courage sorted into fact
against the shining backdrop of the world.

The line of one man's neck, bent—
torchlight breaking shadows on his face.

There was a creature who left the waves behind
and a naked child on a windy plain:
when the atom rips out into our only world
and we're carried away on a wave of hot wind
I will love them no less: they are just how much
the gods wanted us.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


JANE MEAD

Jane Mead's collection of poetry, The Usable Field, will be out from Alice James in 2008. She is the author of two previous collections of poetry, House of Poured-Out Waters (Illinois, 2001) and The Lord and the General Din of the World, (Sarabande, 1996). For many years Poet-in-Residence at Wake Forest University, she now teaches in the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and manages a ranch in northern California. "The Argument Against Us" appears in Voices on the Landscape: Contemporary Iowa Poets, edited by Michael Carey (Loess Hills Books, 1996).

This page was first displayed
on December 08, 2007

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