Magazine

Poem: ‘Fourth poem from the second continuation’

Olga Ravn’s “Fourth poem from the second continuation,” from her new novel, “My Work,” evokes motherhood as negative capability — the capacity, as John Keats described it, to dwell in “uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” The infant is in the darkness. The mother is in the light. The infant becomes, in a moment of piercing ambivalence, the darkness itself in solid form, pushed forward despite this ambivalence. They move together, the seen and unseen, toward home. Selected by Anne Boyer

Credit…Illustration by R. O. Blechman

Fourth poem from the second continuation

By Olga Ravn

walking home from the station
the street light falls across my face

but not into the stroller

the child sees me
but the stroller lies in shadow

as if there were no child
inside the bassinet

only a solid darkness

and I push it
forward

through the
lamplit night


Anne Boyer is a poet and an essayist. Her memoir about cancer and care, “The Undying,” won a 2020 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. Olga Ravn is a Danish poet and novelist living in Copenhagen. Her novel “The Employees” was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize in 2021 and has been published in 24 countries. Her new novel, “My Work,” is published by New Directions.

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