A finalist for the Publishing Triangle’s Audre Lorde Award for Lesbian Poetry, Here Is the Sweet Hand by Francine J. Harris is published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The editor is Jonathan Galassi. The winner will be announced on May 12. Here is a poem from this collection:
I cleaned the house.
I moved the bookshelf from the radiator.
I put my brown things in boxes.
I threw away the cardboard.
I scrubbed the stove. and dried it with a black towel.
There is no more fray coming from under the area rug.
Broke a glass while doing it. and swept the glass. and wiped the glass.
I wiped the glass. And I looked for glass, stray in the break of the wood ﬂooring.
Moved the couch and tried to ﬁnd the glass heating its way into a wedge.
I imagined the foot on glass at some worst time: a phone interview.
a lovemaking. a day of the ﬂu. I took a magnifying glass
to the glass. I thought there were strands of slivering into a splinter
so thin so thin you couldn’t see. I imagined the glass elongating.
I imagined the glass cooling too quickly and snap. I threw away
the glove I used to look for the glass and wiped my knee with a white
towel. I shook the towel over the trash and wiped the ﬂoor
where I shook the towel and washed the towel and then washed
the sink where the towel stank. A woman came home and said
she was moving out. I put that dinner on a plate and slid it
beneath the glass bowl covering a salad on the second shelf
which upon its second onceover with a fork, has lost its verdant leaf.
In the bowl, through the glass, it’s all trunk. The beet is sparse, the avocado
soggy and browning. Lettuce stalk is bitter and watery and hard.
In that distortion, I found a sharp tongue. And I knew I would stab it.
And I knew it would be so only delicious, to me.
“I Cleaned the House,” from Here Is the Sweet Hand © 2020, by Francine J. Harris. Reprinted with permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. All rights reserved.