ordinary beast

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Ordinary Beast by Nicole Sealey

Quietly profound, Sealey's first collected work flows with an avid heart and mind through questions of love, inheritance, friendship, and family—things that sustain us from one day to the next, made more precious by their fragility. Such questions are universal, but they gain force at key junctures by the fact that Sealey's anchoring perspective is that of blackness. Her poem "hysterical strength" opens with a list of impossible feats of survival and swerves into a brief yet poignant treatise: "my thoughts turn to black people- / the hysterical strength we must / possess to survive our very existence, / which i fear many believe is, and / treat as, itself a freak occurrence." It is precisely her ability to think so nimbly, and map such lucid and inevitable-seeming paths from observation to credible theorem, that makes Sealey's words feel not merely beautiful, but useful in the way philosophy, or natural law, is useful.