Consumption – a poem by Art Nahill


I can hear my heartbeat
through my bones.

Not loudly but insistently.
Like rust.

I open my mouth
to scream

but the sound is swallowed
by smoke.

My life is mine to carry
like a suitcase 	or something smaller.

What little volume
it takes to hold us 

by heat and light.

A deck of cards.
An eyeglass case

if we’re lucky. 
No bigger than that.

I surrender myself
to myself.

The way a fallen tree
gives itself over 

to the forest fire.

Art Nahill is an American-born physician and poet who lives in Auckland New Zealand. He has published on both sides of the equator, in magazines such as Poetry, Harvard Review, Rattle, and Poetry NZ among others, as well as three book-length collections.

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