Poems and Texts

“The Longing for Something to Protect” by Jennifer Moxley

The Longing for Something to Protect

ties us up with useless sorrow,
winds the intestinal spool
with a painful inept thread
spun of mercenary grief
(the risk cop in our brain)

something to worry over
under our noses, in the way,
something to keep beside us
which cannot survive without us

something to go home for
and begrudge a little, a gentle
but not binding lease on this
supposedly commodious freedom
(we check messages like addicts)

something to direct the directionless
heart and spin time’s cottony mass
into something other than lists of tasks
(the work will never be done)

something we cannot pay to insure
but without which we cannot live,
something that will be
(though we won’t see it)
indispensable to love’s memory

Jennifer Moxley

Jennifer Moxley (b. 1964) studied literature and writing at UC San Diego and the University of Rhode Island and received her M.F.A. from Brown University in 1994. She is the author of six books of poetry, most recently The Open Secret (Flood Editions 2014), a book of essays, and a memoir. In addition, she has translated three books from the French. In 2005 she was granted the Lynda Hull Poetry Award from Denver Quarterly. Her poem “Behind the Orbits” was included by Robert Creeley in The Best American Poetry 2002. She is Professor of Poetry and Poetics at the University of Maine.