Cecil Hemley Memorial Award - 2005
G. C. Waldrep
Every Apple, Every Dreamer, Every Prime
At the top of the stairs: a horse. No,
the shadow of a horse. No: a shadow
as if cast by stair, if cast: (that is,
thrown): as if recollection. Mete answer,
virginal smutch. Dependent on skill:
mine. Or another's. And like a bronze
monument. No need to defend; as if
we were going: somewhere, same place
electricity goes at night. The sound
it makes: I am always confusing
with blood: (the sound): that purling
hum. A plaque to mark where the village
stood. Obscured by snow. As if a
form had lingered: hesitant, or drawn:
no matter. With my nickeled key
I'm unlocking the door. With my good
eye I am scanning: the landing: no
horses here. I'm promised. Cast
your thread upon the waters. In terms
of the scaffold, in terms of the lave.
The spit or the serry. Add vellum, brush
away the old equations: Archimedes
displaced. Were it so easy to remember.
The sire and the dam, the field
laced with honey. A scarab of bees.
Where I bought him. Without impediment
this pine threshold. No: chipped
from residence. For three transgressions,
and for four. Stealth of the mainflame.
As preference: sweet acre. There is
always a spy wanting to see what you see.
There is always one spy, wanting.
Alice Notley on G. C. Waldrep
"Every Apple, Every Dreamer, Every Prime" is weird and skillful, with its persistence of logical inversion and of mid-line punctuation. The poem has a dreamlike physicality: both the language—words themselves—and the very private scenario possess acute tangibility. The ending is truly a surprise, and lingers.