National Poetry Month Spotlight: Gillian Cummings

Welcome to National Poetry Month, 2016! We’re celebrating all month long. Each day we will bring you a poem we love–a selection from one of our published or forthcoming collections.

Today’s featured poet is Gillian Cummings who won the 2015 Hudson Prize with her manuscript My Dim Aviary, which is due out from BLP in November.

And it’s the wind—an afternoon no one wanted me, I climbed the stepped streets from Pigalle up Montmarte and sat down on a cold stone ledge. My décolleté dress turned drafty: I clung to my thin, fringed shawl the way a child wraps in wool, trying to hide from the dark inside the day. The sun pushed hard, but it couldn’t do a thing against the wind—it’s the wind that comes to mind when Jean says, Sleep the sleep of ivresse, the rush of trance, the drug in your veins like the shadow of a stranger wooing you without form. When he poses me, hand over head in a spell of faint, my body soft-sprawled on the carpet beside the hookah—it’s the wind that comes back: how a flock of pigeons swarmed then scattered then swarmed together again, shifting one to one to one on the wind’s pivot, blown through sky, a cloud of flap and glide, a storm of gesture. How the birds winged the same spirals as the leaves, the leaves that beneath them funneled in a whirl to match their flying, the crisped, curled leaves of October’s dying. And it was the leaves that said, I am no more, I am no more, even as they shifted with a crinkle sort of sound. The leaves that were and weren’t. The doves quickly gone from sight—the same doves in the Kingdom of Heaven? If the drug rushes, this is the rush of it. Jean behind his camera, me in your eye. We are here now, here now, here now—and gone—
First published in Denver Quarterly
IMG_1912Gillian Cummings is the author of My Dim Aviary, which was chosen as the winner of the 2015 Hudson Prize from Black Lawrence Press and is forthcoming in late 2016. She has also written three chapbooks: Ophelia (dancing girl press, forthcoming 2016), Petals as an Offering in Darkness (Finishing Line Press, 2014), and Spirits of the Humid Cloud (dancing girl press, 2012). Her poems have appeared in BoulevardThe Cincinnati Review, the Colorado Review, the Crab Orchard Review, The Cream City ReviewDenver QuarterlyThe Laurel ReviewLinebreakThe Massachusetts ReviewThe Paris-AmericanQuarterly West, in other journals, and have been or will be included in the anthologies Myrrh, Mothwing, Smoke (Tupelo Press, 2013) and The Doll Collection (Terrapin Books, forthcoming 2016). In 2008, she was awarded a Dorothy Sargent Memorial Fund Poetry Prize. A graduate of Stony Brook University (BA, English) and of Sarah Lawrence College’s MFA program, Gillian lives in Westchester County, New York, where for five years she co-taught and taught poetry workshops to women at New York Presbyterian Hospital. She is also a visual artist.