The New World | Courtney Hartnett

The New World | Courtney Hartnett

Before anyone
knew anything
else, the earth
was a plate
afloat
in nothing.
Bone china
on blue, concentric
circles caging its sides,
dark detail
of flowers
rippling its center.

If we wanted
an end
we’d find it —
wooden vessels reaching
the plate’s edge
and falling into
dead space,
taut sails
collapsing
like lungs.

Until someone
tried,
and we found
ourselves instead
afloat
in the albumen
beneath a cold shell
nobody could touch.

It’s interminable now.
The trees are still
with leaves burnished
on the bend
and rise of the hill,
the slow
hurtling arc of the world.


Courtney Hartnett holds an MFA in poetry writing from UNC Greensboro, where she currently teaches. Her poems and prose have appeared in Nimrod, Gertrude, Winter Tangerine, Bombay Gin, Appalachian Journal, and elsewhere. Courtney was a finalist for the Vermont College of Fine Arts 2016 Ruth Stone Poetry Prize.