poetry
autumn/winter 2018

This Year Was the First Year I Could Not Remember Your Voice

by Clint Smith

I tried to imagine the phrases only you would say      

but could only hear them falling 

from someone else’s lips       

 

I tried to imagine the stories you would tell me

but your laugh shattered 

under the weight of this grief      

 

I remember the words you would say        

but I don’t remember the voice 

that said them      

 

I remember you would call me sugar 

but I can’t remember exactly how 

the r melted when it met the air       

 

I remember how you’d tell me baby the lord is always    watchin 

but I am forgetting how your accent cocooned

the warning around my ears      

 

It’s strange how I cannot remember your voice     

but if I heard it I would immediately know 

it was you 

 

Clint Smith is a doctoral candidate at Harvard University who has received fellowships from the Art For Justice Fund, Cave Canem, the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, and the National Science Foundation. His writing has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review, the Harvard Educational Review and elsewhere. His first full-length collection of poetry, Counting Descent, was published in 2016. It won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. 

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