Elegy on Toy Piano By Dean Young

For Kenneth Koch

You don't need a pony   
to connect you to the unseeable   
or an airplane to connect you to the sky.   

Necessary it is to love to live   
and there are many manuals   
but in all important ways   
one is on one's own.   

You need not cut off your hand.   
No need to eat a bouquet.   
Your head becomes a peach pit.   
Your tongue a honeycomb.   

Necessary it is to live to love,   
to charge into the burning tower   
then charge back out   
and necessary it is to die.   
Even for the trees, even for the pony   
connecting you to what can't be grasped.   

The injured gazelle falls behind the   
herd. One last wild enjambment.   

Because of the sores in his mouth,   
the great poet struggles with a dumpling.   
His work has enlarged the world   
but the world is about to stop including him.   
He is the tower the world runs out of.   

When something becomes ash,   
there's nothing you can do to turn it back.   
About this, even diamonds do not lie.
Note to Poetry Out Loud students: This poem begins with an epigraph that must be recited. Omitting the epigraph will affect your accuracy score.
Source: Poetry (October 2003).

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