Chapter 16
A Community of Tennessee Writers, Readers & Passersby

“Vigil Hemming In”

Book Excerpt: Exorcism Lessons in the Heartland

Vigil Hemming In

Lightless light and my father’s cigarette

smoke softening into it and the light
complicit with the smoke and softening, too,

into the field’s hitherto horizon, the field

a blur of turned drumlin. A flick of ash
and a mottled dove melts into the failing hickory.

So this is the sunset with you removed —

a circle withdrawing into a deeper circumference,
and so on. Then some. When you were,

light knew its home and kept within it.

Names held their course. Each poem chose
one headstrong color and became it utterly,

not like this blownback space, this all-

over sound, where petal can mean mare pressed
to ground, can mean little girl lost, little woman

stormbound. Words need edges to survive. Or else,

this hickory and its gathering of doves, this everywhere-
song, this widower burning behind the window.

“Vigil Hemming In”

Copyright (c) 2019 by Cara Dees. All rights reserved. Cara Dees is the author of Exorcism Lessons in the Heartland, winner of the 2018 Barrow Street Book Prize. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Best New Poets, Harvard Review, and Poetry Daily. A Ph.D. candidate at the University of Cincinnati, she holds an M.F.A. from Vanderbilt University.

Tagged: ,