Poets on Couches: Shane McCrae Reads Lucie Brock-Broido


Poets on Couches

In this series of videograms, poets read and discuss the poems getting them through these strange times—broadcasting straight from their couches to yours. These readings bring intimacy into our spaces of isolation, both through the affinity of poetry and through the warmth of being able to speak to each other across the distances.


Periodic Table of Ethereal Elements
by Lucie Brock-Broido
Issue no. 154 (Spring 2000)

for Harry Ford

I was not ready for your form to be cold
Ever. Even in life

You did not inhabit, necessarily, a form,
But a mind of

Rarer liquid element. It had not occurred to me
You would take

Leave and it will be winter from now on, not only
Here, in the ordinary,

But there too, in the extraordinary elegance
Of calcium and finery

And loss. Keep me

Tethered here, breathtakingly awkward and alive.

If you had a psyche it was not known to me.

If you had a figure it would be heavy ivory.

If you were a man, you would be

An autumn of black carriages filled red with leaves
From sycamore; trees,

Not scattering. I was not ready for such
Eanhward and unease.

Good-bye to the imperium, the rinsing wind. You, cold
As God and the great

Glassed castle in which I’ve lived, simply
Now a house.

A girl ago, a girlhood gone like a vial of ether
Thrown on fire—just

A little jump of flame, like grief, or,

Like a penicillin that has lost its skill at killing
Off, it then is gone.


Shane McCrae’s most recent books are The Gilded Auction Block and Sometimes I Never Suffered, both of which are published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He lives in New York City and teaches at Columbia University.