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Good Letters

image of a bluish bowlI was first drawn to this poem by Carol Ann Davis because of its long and curious title. Who is Jenya? How does imagination correspond to a dog’s bowl? The peculiarity of these details led me into a surprising poem of weighty questions and deep meditation. Davis asks, “My emptiness / loves yours. Can you hear it?” After a contemplative Lenten season, this poem challenges me to continue to make room for mindfulness and reflection in my life, each and every day. To commit to listening versus distraction. To allow my “animal mind” to empty “its bowl of needs” in order to make room for something larger and more profound to enter. I am grateful for Davis’s conviction that we will all find our way to our own form of reverence.

—Jessica Gigot

“To Jenya on First Noticing the Dog’s Bowl of My Imagination” by Carol Ann Davis

In all this wind I’m sure you’ll find something empty,
an unsent package or the edge of a glass.
Perhaps you’ll come back cradled,
released to your barest parts. My emptiness
loves yours. Can you hear it? As grace
and distraction, our many selves bend
in order to sing. You’d tell me
the better to be given over
to what approaches slowly, second guesses—
bird’s call in the throat, bone born first
as milk. Mine made lovely for being inborn,
yours that never fills! Vessel to whom
I’m delivered, reckoner and cranium, scholar
of the devoted, what does the heart know
of the space that brushes it? It knows you, of course,
and because it knows it begs. What is devotion
but the animal mind emptying, slowly,
its bowl of needs?

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Written by: Carol Ann Davis

Carol Ann Davis is the author of Psalm and Atlas Hour, both from Tupelo Press. A recipient of an NEA Fellowship in poetry, she has recently published work in American Poetry Review, Agni, and Volt. After directing the undergraduate creative writing program at the College of Charleston and editing Crazyhorse there for many years, in 2012 she joined the faculty in writing at Fairfield University in Connecticut.

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