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Poem: Settlement – The New York Times

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In Divya Victor’s “Settlement,” the poem’s repetitions evoke the grim repetitions of history. Even the poem’s prepositions are heavy and hard to bear. The string of “overs” that begin the poem are the “overs” of domination. The “we” of the poem are the “settled” who have become willfully insensate to history. They are left with the stark culmination of the Thanksgiving feast: a broken bone with no meat.

By Divya Victor

Settlers, over the land, over the sea
over the tile, over the stone floors
settlers over the furs, over the pinewood planks
of the house settled, the houses settled into the ground
the houses so buried; settling
pulling life like splinters
from the toboggans & caravans pulling cargo
settled out of suitcases, settled down
we settled in & so settled we
into our ways & with those ways did we settle
for this emptying of history
for this sternum rent in two
for this conscience as quiet
as the snap of a wishbone
sucked white.


Anne Boyer is a poet and an essayist. Her memoir about cancer and care, “The Undying,” won a 2020 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction. Divya Victor is the author of “CURB” from Nightboat Books. “CURB” is the winner of the 2022 PEN America Open Book Award and the winner of the 2022 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. It was also a finalist for the 2022 CLMP Firecracker Award (Poetry). She is currently an associate professor of English and writing at Michigan State University, where she is the director of the creative-writing program.

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