Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Heather McHugh: "The Size of Spokane"


The baby isn't cute. In fact he's
a homely little pale and headlong
stumbler. Still, he's one
of us—the human beings
stuck on flight 295 (Chicago to Spokane);
and when he passes my seat twice
at full tilt this then that direction,
I look down from Lethal Weapon 3 to see
just why. He's

running back and forth
across a sunblazed circle on
the carpet-something brilliant, fallen
from a porthole. So! it's light
amazing him, it's only light, despite
some three and one
half hundred
people, propped in rows
for him to wonder at; it's light
he can't get over, light he can't
investigate enough, however many
zones he runs across it,
flickering himself.

The umpteenth time
I see him coming, I've had
just about enough; but then
he notices me noticing and stops—
one fat hand on my armrestto
inspect the oddities of me.

Some people cannot hear.
Some people cannot walk.
But everyone was
sunstruck once, and set adrift.
Have we forgotten how
astonishing this is? so practiced all our senses
we cannot imagine them? foreseen instead of seeing
all the all there is? Each spectral port,
each human eye

is shot through with a hole, and everything we know
goes in there, where it feeds a blaze. In a flash

the baby's old; Mel Gibson's hundredth comeback seems
less clever; all his chases and embraces
narrow down, while we
fly on (in our
plain radiance of vehicle)

toward what cannot stay small forever.

"The Size of Spokane" by Heather McHugh, from Hinge & Sign: Poems, 1968-1993. © Wesleyan University Press, 1994.

Photography credit: Unknown (originally color).



  1. Wow! That's a terrific poem. I really appreciate this website. Thanks for sharing great work.

    1. You're very welcome! And yes, a lovely poem, isn't it? These poets are so gifted....


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