Jesse Lee Kercheval

[Here right here]

Here right here in my chest
a dark emptiness the size of a mouse

What nibbled its way in

                              —or out?

Even sitting here in the sun

I feel it

          door or wound

I don’t remember how I got it

I’ve been lucky—

is that what makes me
          so afraid

that one day luck will stop
the door, a tiny trap, snap shut?

Sometimes I think it would be
                              a huge relief

letting out a breath I’ve held too long

as if I’ve been waiting all my life
          for a letter, for a messenger—

& when he finally arrives

I will sigh, close this book
& say—So there you are

I was starting to worry
you would never come

I was starting to worry one of us
was lost


Jesse Lee Kercheval is the author of 14 books of poetry and fiction. Her latest poetry collection America that island off the coast of France, won The Dorset Prize and is forthcoming from Tupelo Press. She is also a translator, recent books include The Invisible Bridge: Selected Poems of Circe Maia and Fable of an Inconsolable Man, by Javier Etchevarren. She is the Zona Gale Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin and the director of the Program in Creative Writing.