In celebration of National Poetry month, we wanted to take some time to highlight the work of Heather Lang-Cassera, our Clark County, Nevada Poet Laureate.
During the first week of social distancing, Heather took her pinhole camera to the once-populated areas of Downtown Las Vegas and captured the stillness and quiet that we’ve now come to recognize in this time of isolation. She develops her photographs in her home studio and gave us permission to reprint them here alongside her recent poem, “without.” The poem, like the photographs, beautifully explores themes of emptiness, absence, and longing.
We have included the audio version of the poem as well, for your listening pleasure:
I have never known loss
I took words and placed them on my tongue,
a quiet catapult for what
I cannot say.
I think of your wrists,
but as city swans in pairs
dark with moonlight.
And your ribcage,
Here, I wait
with ceramic bowl, clean & grey as shadow,
between two hands
so that I might feel
the something that is in emptiness.
What are we
but trees without hills are no less
for their loneliness.
And these promises, rearranged—
a wing unbroken, a softness
Heather Lang-Cassera is the Clark County, Nevada Poet Laureate. Her poems have been published in Diode, The Normal School, North American Review, Paper Darts, Pleiades, South Dakota Review, and elsewhere. She serves as world literature editor for The Literary Review, faculty advisor for 300 Days of Sun, and editor-in-chief for Tolsun Books. At Nevada State College, Heather teaches Introduction to Creative Writing, Modern American Poetry, and more. www.heatherlang.cassera.net
Are you a poet finding creative ways to work through the COVID-19 crisis? We want to hear from you! Send stories about your inspiration and/or process to our editors at firstname.lastname@example.org. You are welcome to include recent work you would like to share in our highlights. Stay safe, write on.