By Stephanie Burt
Complete in ourselves,
we look like scraps of paper anyway:
left alone, we could tell
our mothers and one another our owners’
flimsiest secrets and play together all day
until we became intertwined, which is why
to keep us permanently apart.
One of us is a gossamer pirate ship,
a frigate whose rigging the industrial
sunset highlights, sail by oblong sail.
Another resembles a Greek letter — gamma,
or lambda; others still
a ligature, a propeller, a fat lip.
Our will is not exactly the wind’s will.
Underlined by sand,
whose modes of coagulation and cohabitation
none of the human pedestrians understand,
we take off on our almost arbitrarily
lengthy singletons of string
towards the unattainable, scarily
lofty realm of hawk and albatross
and stay, backlit by cirrocumulus.
It seems to be up to you
to keep us
up in the air, and to make sure our paths never cross.
More By This Poet
Advice from Rock Creek Park
What will survive us
has already begun
Two termites’ curious
Letting the light through the gaps
They lay out their allegiances
under the roots
of an overturned tree
Almost always better
to build than to wreck
You can build in a wreck
Under the roots
of an overturned tree
A Covered Bridge in Littleton, New Hampshire
I can remember when I wanted X
more than anything ever—for X fill in
from your own childhood
[balloon, pencil lead, trading card, shoelaces, a bow
or not to have to wear a bow]
and now I am moved to action, when I am moved,
More Poems about Activities
I come home,
feet about to bleed
from angry stomping.
“Boy!” says Mom.
“Quit making all that racket.”
But what does she expect
when, day after day,
haters sling words at me
like jagged stones
designed to split my skin?
I retreat to my room,
collapse on the bed,
count, “One. Two....
Nowhere Else to Go
Turn off the lights.
Wear another layer.
(Sounds like a dad.)
(Sounds like a mom.)
You say hand-me-down.
I say retro.
Walk some more.
(See what I did there,
Your name in Sharpie
on a good water bottle.
Backpack. New habits.
No thanks, don’t need a bag.
Tell ten friends
More Poems about Nature
I want to put down what the mountain has awakened.
My mouthful of grass.
My curious tale. I want to stand still but find myself moved patch by patch.
There's a bleat in my throat. Words fail me here. Can you understand? I...
Whenever you see a tree
how many long years
this tree waited as a seed
for an animal or bird or wind or rain
to maybe carry it to maybe the right spot
where again it waited months for seasons to change
until time and temperature were fine enough to...