A poem about Chris Cornell by Hilary Otto : “Totem”


for Chris Cornell

Pulsing through the rough metal of a coil
the rasp of a voice that also knew tenderness
a guttural tincture suspended in air.

Such certainty in a carnival of selves:
how many facets you dazzle
as you reflect your despair in melody.

A sound made for the masses
the depth of your howl
the soul of a planet crying out –

tell us now, how is the sun?
That magnetic field you created
lines us up, pulls us in to hear you.

Hidden deep, a kernel of light,
but that star flung far from us
was exposed to a gravity it could not defy.

We lost you, and yet
here you are still: a totem,
voice scaling the octaves like a wall

sometimes rising beyond our reach,
beyond our comprehension.
Sometimes, falling.

Bio: Hilary Otto is an English poet based in Barcelona, where she is part of the poetry collective Las Di-Versas. Her work has featured in Ink, Sweat and Tears, Black Bough, The Alchemy Spoon and The Blue Nib, among other publications. She was longlisted for the Live Canon 2021 International Poetry Prize, and her first pamphlet Zoetrope is forthcoming from Hedgehog Press. She tweets at @hilaryotto