Spring 2023 • Vol. XLV No. 2 PoetryApril 4, 2023 |

The Remnant

The Kenyon Review · "The Remnant" by Kwame Dawes Debris spreads like the scattering of bones on the seabed, coral growing around the long history of bodies jettisoned. This is a myth. The artist must imagine a biblical calamity. The truth is that, soon, sand will cover all evidence, soon, even the ancestors singing deep in the ocean will not be heard. Soon, in the soft rumble of walls of water moving, deafness will be all that is left. The space beneath the freeway, all the vehicles emptied, the pillars holding up the interlocking maze of asphalt and cement, is the graveyard of all desire. We will walk among the broken planks, the empty cars, the tattered garments, and here we will find ourselves alone, the wind moving with the constant hum of air circling the void. To hold ourselves intact, we must close our eyes and imagine green, and then, for sustenance, drag our tongues across our foreheads, to taste the salt and sweet of our hope.

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Kwame Dawes is the author of numerous books of poetry and other books of fiction, criticism, and essays. His most recent collection, UnHistory, was cowritten with John Kinsella (Peepal Tree Press, 2022). Dawes is a George W. Holmes University Professor of English and the Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner. He teaches in the Pacific University MFA Program and is the series editor of the African Poetry Book Series, director of the African Poetry Book Fund, and Artistic Director of the Calabash International Literary Festival. He is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Dawes is the winner of the prestigious Windham Campbell Prize for Poetry and was a finalist for the 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. In 2022, Dawes was awarded the Order of Distinction, Commander class, by the Government of Jamaica.

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