Get Lit Minute

Traci Brimhall | "Oh Wonder"

January 11, 2022 Get Lit - Words Ignite Season 3 Episode 30
Get Lit Minute
Traci Brimhall | "Oh Wonder"
Show Notes

In this episode of the Get Lit Minute, your weekly poetry podcast, we spotlight the life and work of poet, Traci Brimhall. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, and New England Review, among others. Some of her work has also been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Best of the Net, PBS Newshour, and Best American Poetry 2013 & 2014. Source

This episode includes a reading of her poem,  "Oh Wonder", featured in our 2021 Get Lit Anthology.

"Oh Wonder"

It’s the garden spider who eats her mistakes

at the end of day so she can billow in the lung

of night, dangling from an insecure branch 


or caught on the coral spur of a dove’s foot

and sleep, her spinnerets trailing radials like

ungathered hair. It’s a million pound cumulus. 


It’s the stratosphere, holding it, miraculous. It’s

a mammatus rolling her weight through dusk

waiting to unhook and shake free the hail. 


Sometimes it’s so ordinary it escapes your notice—

pothos reaching for windows, ease of an avocado

slipping its skin. A porcelain boy with lamp-black 


eyes told me most mammals have the same average

number of heartbeats in a lifetime. It is the mouse

engine that hums too hot to last. It is the blue whale’s 


slow electricity—six pumps per minute is the way

to live centuries. I think it’s also the hummingbird

I saw in a video lifted off a cement floor by firefighters 


and fed sugar water until she was again a tempest.

It wasn’t when my mother lay on the garage floor

and my brother lifted her while I tried to shout louder 


than her sobs. But it was her heart, a washable ink.

It was her dark’s genius, how it moaned slow enough

to outlive her. It is the orca who pushes her dead calf 


a thousand miles before she drops it or it falls apart.

And it is also when she plays with her pod the day

after. It is the night my son tugs at his pajama 


collar and cries: The sad is so big I can’t get it all out,

and I behold him, astonished, his sadness as clean

and abundant as spring. His thunder-heart, a marvel 


I refuse to invade with empathy. And outside, clouds

groan like gods, a garden spider consumes her home.

It’s knowing she can weave it tomorrow between 


citrus leaves and earth. It’s her chamberless heart

cleaving the length of her body. It is lifting my son

into my lap to witness the birth of his grieving.

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