Clint Smith is a doctoral candidate at Harvard University and has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, and the National Science Foundation. He is a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion and his writing has been published in the New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, the Guardian, Boston Review, Harvard Educational Review, and elsewhere. He is the author of Counting Descent, which won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. He was born and raised in New Orleans.
After Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib
Imagine each continent a splintered
tessellation of wayward fragments.
Each mass of land attempting to
jostle itself free. Pangaea was the last
of the supercontinents, a mass of land
that came together & broke itself apart
several times before. It should come
as no surprise, don’t we all find
ourselves coming back to something
we can lose ourselves inside of? Can
we blame the desert for missing the
breeze that tumbles across the grassland?
Can we blame the tundra for a desire to
witness the wrestling of pines? Just the
other day, a bomb killed seventy people
in Pakistan & no one around me heard
a sound. These days, I find myself
blaming Pangaea for the sounds I cannot
hear. I decry the continents for their
careless drift. I detest the tectonic plates
for their indifferent quake. I wake up in
love with the ocean & fall asleep despising
all it has put between us. Perhaps if the
continents had never shaken themselves
free of one another we might find
ourselves disabused of this apathy. Perhaps
if we could hear the bomb dropping,
we might imagine what would happen
if it struck our own home. I am nostalgic
for a proximity that may not have mattered.
I find myself loathing a miracle.