Lana Reeves ’23
Grolier Poetry Book Shop (1927-), 6 Plympton St.
For Lana Reeves, Grolier Poetry Book Shop has “taken on a mythic proportion.” It is the oldest poetry bookstore in the U.S., founded in 1927, with floor-to-ceiling shelves filled with books and photographs on display of Helen Vendler, Seamus Heaney, and Ifeanyi Menkiti, the late owner whose family carries on the tradition of the historic institution.
Poetry, for Reeves, is about music and rhythm — “it feels like an experience in a bodily sense” — and its purpose is “to serve the imaginary space.” Her work speaks of decolonization and re-envisioning sovereignty. “It is difficult in other modes of writing … to envision a future without those structures.” For Reeves, poetry serves as “a way to imagine a more just future.”
For her senior thesis, Reeves considers Hawaii, where she’s from, as a collective voice including people, plants, and animals “and how might these voices contribute to shaping a decolonial future.” In the following poem, she speaks as the kalo, a taro native to Hawaii, in the wetland lo’i, imagining what advice it might give.
What I Pull Up
We find each other getting back
to the nature of things. In the bend
and pinch. Where your fingers become
a basket for ancient, infinite
traces. Where vision leaps through time,
untethered. I am the stump of something—
How many times have you buried me
only for me to bob to the surface?
Root prism. This patch of muddled prayer
moves through us, and I have seen
the good its medicine can do.
How else do you imagine
our bodies allowed each other? The body
is a whole water system. The body
waters the body. These bodies that are
systems of bodies. And you—
your blood, hair, skin, and bones,
your unwillingness to sacrifice your happiness—
I can only hope to become again. Don’t wait—
I do not wander into the mouth,
but must be wrenched into being
and held there. Root grip. Tender
prison. I hold you, right now
in more ways than you can ever know.
Spoken as the kalo (taro), in a wetland lo‘i. Indigenous plant of sustenance which grows in deep mud and water, and which can regenerate infinitely by re-planting the stump.