Two Poems by Daisy Bassen

Nothing for Something

There wouldn’t be room for anything if I didn’t make it,
Which must be what worms think, making their way
Through the earth, all their hearts beating in tandem
To power the hydraulics of creating space to occupy;
If I prayed as I ought and lit the candles and braided
And baked; if I did all that I could and what you can’t do
For yourself, the worms must think, making their way through
The rich earth enriched by their passage, you would forgive me
For being there when you bit the apple, when you threw it away
Wondering if you’d eaten something dark, something humming,
The talent for burrowing. I don’t mean sleep and I don’t mean
Night, I mean the burnt wick, the pause held between sung notes.


There’s always one who comes out too early,
Not like the first snowdrop, a gladness;
Horrified by animate repairs, by the unutterable —
The knife, the clamp, the curved needle,
The numbered gauze, the everyday voices
Of impersonal gods, the monitor’s toll.
There’s always one whose eyes open,
Half-mad, the half that counts,
Who makes you wonder again about the soul,
Where it hides, where it ventures.
There’s always one you have to bring to oblivion
Twice, hoping the second time swallows
Everything before, or enough, an ouroboros.

There’s always a blockade that fails
And the ships burn in the harbor,
Fire the sea will not quench.

About the author

Daisy Bassen is a poet and practicing physician who graduated from Princeton University’s Creative Writing Program and completed her medical training at The University…

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Issue 24 · Autumn 2021

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