Our Dizzy Estimate

Poetry / Adam Clay

:: Our Dizzy Estimate ::

Arriving like ivory where 
ivory should not be,
though would being plucked
from the daily ebb 

be preferable to existing 
in the moment, framed by
a just then or a what now?
In whatever painting 

we imagine of ourselves,
there’s a fiction in the moment 
mistaken for truth.
What if the afterwards

reveals itself as stasis? Would
we long for movement or forget
the earlier path in the blinding
wonder of this new exile?


From the writer

:: Account ::

This poem was writ­ten dur­ing the rush of April, May, and June when I try to draft a poem each day. Most of these poems come from dai­ly expe­ri­ence or what bits of news fil­ter into the day; writ­ing every day, I’ve found, changes the mind in that it’s con­stant­ly recep­tive to poet­ic ideas in almost every­thing it encoun­ters. A news sto­ry about the ille­gal ivory trade grabbed my atten­tion one night, and I began to think about the way objects in our world find their way to us, both lit­er­al­ly and also through the mind and the way it process­es our sur­round­ings (includ­ing the self, which the poem even­tu­al­ly found its way to). The title of the poem comes from Emi­ly Dick­in­son, a poem that men­tions “Men of Ivory” and “fic­ti­tious Peo­ple.” I think the qua­trains are a nod to Dick­in­son, and in the end, I want­ed the “new exile” of the poem to ref­er­ence the “Mir­a­cle of Death” in Dickinson’s poem. It’s a mir­a­cle because the nar­ra­tive of our self will at last end, though oth­ers might very well con­tin­ue the fic­tion for us.


Adam Clay is the author of A Hotel Lob­by at the Edge of the World (Milk­weed Edi­tions, 2012) and The Wash (Par­lor Press, 2006). A third book of poems, Stranger, is forth­com­ing from Milk­weed Edi­tions. His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Crab Orchard Review, Boston Review, Iowa Review, The Pinch, and else­where. A co-edi­tor of TYPO Mag­a­zine, he serves as a Book Review Edi­tor for the Keny­on Review, and teach­es at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Illi­nois Springfield.