Poem-a-Day - "Pathogenesis" by Aliah Lavonne Tigh

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September 19, 2022 

Pathogenesis

Aliah Lavonne Tigh

Sea of strangers exhales.               

                                              Something natural

 
reorders us                without consent.           We reorder         

 
            the coastline.               My therapist:         

 
                                                           what do you feel 

 
 in your stomach?     In your chest?    I feel nothing.  Nothing 

 
matters. I touch nothing.    I’m angry.   Stop

 
asking.                 Have you ever stood on a shore, 

 
felt the water change heights?  Felt the wet sand rush to squeeze

 
your legs too tight? 

 
                               In each of us:

 
                                            possibility,   a knife wedged 

 
           under the mattress, a new strangeness, an undiscovered way 

 
       we could touch each other, a bird never heard before 

 
   singing, an untaken path, 

 
                                    or genesis.

Copyright © 2022 by Aliah Lavonne Tigh. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 19, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.

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“I wrote this poem in response to a prompt poet Stalina Villarreal provided for our writing collective. Originally, the poem began, ‘The joy of standing in a crowded room,’ before continuing with ‘Sea of strangers. . .’ I wanted to remember the euphoria of a pre-Covid June dance party. I wanted to remember the pleasure of being influenced and moved by something outside of me. While this was my intention, the poem that emerged wanted to look at the complexities of our connections.”
Aliah Lavonne Tigh

Aliah Lavonne Tigh is a mixed Iranian American poet. The author of Weren’t We Natural Swimmers (Tram Editions, 2022), her work has been supported by Tin House and the Idyllwild Arts Academy. She lives in Houston. 

Weren’t We Natural Swimmers
(Tram Editions, 2022)

“Incantation of the First Order” by Rita Dove
read more
“What the Silence Said” by Marie Howe
read more

Thanks to Cynthia Hogue, author of In June the Labyrinth (Red Hen Press, 2017), who curated Poem-a-Day for this month’s weekdays. Read or listen to a Q&A about Hogue’s curatorial approach and find out more about our guest editors for the year
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