Fugue by Elizabeth Alexander

I am exploring the idea of cocoons for my poems. I have a terrible fascination with them lately. Wombs, too.

Fugue
Elizabeth Alexander

Virginia Woolf, incested
though her childhood, wrote
that she imagined herself
growing up inside a grape.
Grapes are sealed and safe.
You wouldn’t quite float
in one; you’d sit locked
in enough moisture to keep
from drying out, the world
outside though gelid green.
Picture everyone’s edges
smudged. Picture everyone
a green as delicate
as a Ming celadon. Pic-
ture yourself a mollusk
with an unsegmented body
in a skin so tight and taut
that you’d be safe. You could
ruminate all night about
the difference between “taut”
and “tight,” “molest” and “incest.”
“Taut means tightly-drawn,
high-strung. What is tight
is structured so as not to
permit passage of liquid
or gas, air, or light.

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