'In Antigua'

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A travel ad in The New Yorker provides the inspiration for this poem selected from the debut collection of Kerri Webster. Webster teaches poetry writing at Boise State University and through the Log Cabin Literary Center's Writers in the Schools program.

To mark National Poetry Month, NPR.org is featuring a series of newly published works selected by the Academy of American Poets. Learn more about this and other titles at the academy's New Spring Books list.

In Antigua

Kerri Webster

"In Antigua I am famous. I am bathed in jasmine

and pressed with warm stones."

—Carnival Cruise ad in The New Yorker

 

In Albuquerque, on the other hand, I am infamous; children

throw stones and the elderly whisper behind their hands.

In Juneau, I am glacial, a cool blue where anyone can bathe

for a price. In Rio I am neither exalted nor defamed; I walk

the streets and nothing makes sense, voices garbled, something

about electricity, something about peonies and cheap wool.

 

In Prague I am as fabulous as Napoleon and everyone

knows it. They give me a horse and I tell them this horse

will be buried with me, I tell them I will call the horse either

Andromeda or Murphy and all applaud wildly. In Montreal

I am paler than I am in Toronto. In Istanbul I trip over cracks

in the sidewalk and no one rushes to take my elbow, to say

Miss or brew strong tea for a poultice. In Sydney they talk

about my arrival for days. I sit outside the opera house

waiting for miracles, and when none occur in a fortnight

 

it's Ecuador, where the old gods include the small scythes

of my fingernails in their rituals and I learn that anything

can ferment, given opportunity, given terra cotta. In Paris

I'm up all night. Off the Gold Coast, I marry a reverend

who swears that pelicans are god's birds and numbers them

fervently, meanwhile whistling. Near Bucharest I go all

invisible, also clammy, also way more earnest than I ever was

in Memphis. For three Sundays I wander skinny side streets

saying amphora, amphora.

 

From We Do Not Eat Our Hearts Alone, © 2005 by Kerri Webster. Published by the University of Georgia Press and used by permission.

Books Featured In This Story

We Do Not Eat Our Hearts Alone
We Do Not Eat Our Hearts Alone

by Kerri Webster

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