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By Linda Pastan

I am learning to abandon the world

before it can abandon me.

Already I have given up the moon

and snow, closing my shades

against the claims of white.

And the world has taken

my father, my friends.

I have given up melodic lines of hills,

moving to a flat, tuneless landscape.

And every night I give my body up

limb by limb, working upwards

across bone, towards the heart.

But morning comes with small

reprieves of coffee and birdsong.

A tree outside the window

which was simply shadow moments ago

takes back its branches twig

by leafy twig.

And as I take my body back

the sun lays its warm muzzle on my lap

as if to make amends.


Linda Pastan, “I Am Learning to Abandon the World” from PM/AM: New and Selected Poems (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1982). Copyright © 1982 by Linda Pastan. Reprinted with the permission of the Jean V. Naggar Agency, Inc. on behalf of the author.

Source: PM/AM: New and Selected Poems (W. W. Norton and Company Inc., 1982)

  • Living
  • Nature

Poet Bio

Linda Pastan
Linda Pastan put her promising literary career on hold when she got married, and focused instead on raising a family. Unsettled by her unfulfilled talent, Pastan returned to writing and published her first book, A Perfect Circle of Sun at age 39. Her themes, not surprisingly, often address domestic life, but she is also influenced by her childhood and growing up in a Jewish family living in the Bronx. See More By This Poet

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