You are pure appetite. I am pure
Appetite. You are a phantom
In that far-off city where daylight
Climbs cathedral walls, stone by stolen stone.
—from "Self-Portrait as the Letter Y"
The Body's Question by Tracy K. Smith received the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize for the best first book by an African-American poet, selected by Kevin Young. Confronting loss, historical intersections with race and family, and the threshold between childhood and adulthood, Smith gathers courage and direction from the many disparate selves encountered in these poems, until, as she writes, "I was anyone I wanted to be."