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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

you try

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.


  • Activities
  • Nature

Poet Bio

Stephanie Burt
Stephanie Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor. Burt has taught at Macalester College and is now Professor of English at Harvard University. She lives in the suburbs of Boston with her spouse, Jessie Bennett, and their two children.

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