“At Night the States” is a famous poem that, whether you have or haven’t heard it before, strikes you over the head repeatedly. Formally inventive without any loss in the depth of its feeling, Notley transcends the genre of elegy to an expression of grief that might register unmediated: it is a present poem, an immediate poem, an inconsolable poem. It is also beautiful, and Notley’s reading of it here is given with a sincerity and confidence that never betrays the content—one can lose (and at least one has lost) hours to it.
At night the statesI forget them or I wish I was therein that one under theStars. It smells like June in this nightso sweet like air.I may have decided that theStates are not that tiredOr I have thought so. I havethought that.
Find the poem in its entirety and listen to Notley give a reading of it over at The Poetry Foundation.