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Carrie Fountain
The wasps outside
the kitchen window
are making that
thick, unraveling sound
again, floating in
and out of the bald head
of their nest,
seeming not to move
while moving,
and it has just occurred
to me, standing,
washing the coffeepot,
watching them hang
loosely in the air—thin
wings; thick, elongated
abdomens; sad, down—
pointing antennae—
that this
is the heart’s constant
project: this simple
learning; learning
how to hold
and hope together;
to see on the unharmed
surface of one
the great scar
of the other; to recognize
both and to make
something of both;
to desire everything
and nothing
at once and to desire it
all the time;
and to contain that desire
fleshly, in a body;
to wash it and rest it
and feed it; to learn
its name and from whence
it came; and to speak
to it—oh, most of all
to speak to it—
every day, every day,
saying to one part,
“Well, maybe this is all
you get,” while saying
to the other, “Go on,
break it open, let it go.” 
Madison Arts Program Administrator
Why I chose this poem: 

I became an insta fan of Carrie Fountain’s poetry when I stumbled upon the poem “The Jungle” last month in the American Poetry Review (Vol 49, No2). I almost picked “The Jungle” for Poem-a-Day, but “Want,” written in 2010, seems apropos this April, as we are suspended together “floating in and out” of uncertainty like Fountain’s sad, busy wasps. We can brace for the unknown suffering coming our way, yet work from our bald headed nests, start seeds indoors, cook big meals for families reunited by COVID19, watch Tiger King on Netflix, go through with weddings or postpone them until next year. We skeptically conjure futures based on the imaginary ones we envisioned in the obsolete past. We do not know how to tweak our own fantasies so that we can believe them fully, but we keep going. “Want” offers an aspirational strategy for navigating life’s unpredictability.  “Learning” as fountain writes, “how to hold hopelessness and hope together.”


Burn Lake