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The Darkest Elation

This is the darkest elation,

the moment all walls are breached.

Perhaps not the breaking of ramparts,

but the vapors we make of these

edifices of prudence. In an instant,

the wind is allowed to rush into

the hungry crevices, porticos,

hovels and deep courtyards,

and in this moment, we bask

in the sweetest surrender. Tears

overwhelm the body into deep

shudders, the air waiting with

held breath for the tender

aftermath. A body understands

the bruises that will darken

on it, and this my body welcomes

the darkest elation there is.


KWAME DAWES is the author of numerous books of poetry as well as books of fiction, criticism, and essays. His most recent collection, UnHistory, was cowritten with John Kinsella (Peepal Tree Press, 2022). Dawes is a George W. Holmes University Professor of English and Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner. He teaches in the Pacific MFA Program and is the series editor of the African Poetry Book Series, director of the African Poetry Book Fund, and artistic director of the Calabash International Literary Festival. He is a chancellor for the Academy of American Poets and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Kwame Dawes is the winner of the prestigious Windham/Campbell Award for Poetry and was a finalist for the 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature.


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