Claire Bateman: "Plunge"




It’s true, I once read

a book in sequence!


Instead of leafing ahead to see

how it all came out;


instead of maintaining my status as

a hovering atmospheric intelligence;


I jack-knifed in,

abandoned myself to experiencing


and difficulty

and time


from the inside out,

with all those perplexing

fits and starts.


I thought,

“Maybe I could get used to this,”


and I thought,

“Maybe this is just what I’ve always needed,”


struggling along companionably with the characters

in their horizonless ocean,


until all at once,

on the last page,

my reading overreached itself


like a blind swimmer

slamming her skull

against the slick,

blue-tiled wall.



Claire Bateman's books are Locals (Serving House Books, 2012), The Bicycle Slow Race (Wesleyan University Press, 1991), Friction (Eighth Mountain Poetry Prize, 1998), At the Funeral of the Ether (Ninety-Six Press, 1998), Clumsy (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2003), Leap (New Issues, 2005), Coronology (a chapbook, single long poem, Serving House Books, 2009), and Coronology (and other poems) (Etruscan Press, 2010). She has been awarded Individual Artist Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Surdna Foundation, as well as two Pushcart Prizes.  She has taught at Clemson University, the Fine Arts Center, and various workshops and conferences. She lives in Greenville, SC, and is poetry editor of the St. Katherine Review.