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
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
Emily Dickinson at the Poetry Slam
I will tell you why she rarely ventured from her house.
It happened like this:
One day she took the train to Boston,
made her way to the darkened room,
put her name down in cursive script
and waited her turn.
When they read her name...
Fairy Tale with Laryngitis and Resignation Letter
You remember the mermaid makes a deal,
her tongue evicted from her throat,
and moving is a knife-cut with every step.
This is what escape from water means.
Dear Colleagues, you write, for weeks
I’ve been typing this letter in the bright
kingdom of my imagination....
More Poems about Nature
For the Feral Splendor That Remains
sometimes I strain
Altered After Too Many Years Under the Mask
I feel you