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
When you caught one to keep,
we took it home and I asked you to teach me.
You showed me how to spike the brain—
I thanked the fish, looked away, pressed down.
We bled it, shaved away the scales,
severed meat from bone.
A Wing and a Prayer
We thought the birds were singing louder. We were almost certain they
were. We spoke of this, when we spoke, if we spoke, on our zoom screens
or in the backyard with our podfolk. Dang, you hear those birds? Don’t
they sound loud?...
More Poems about Nature
Listening in Deep Space
We've always been out looking for answers,
telling stories about ourselves,
searching for connection, choosing
to send out Stravinsky and whale song,
which, in translation, might very well be
our undoing instead of a welcome.
We launch satellites, probes, telescopes
unfolding like origami, navigating
geomagnetic storms, major disruptions.
At the Equinox
The tide ebbs and reveals orange and purple sea stars.
I have no theory of radiance,
but after rain evaporates
off pine needles, the needles glisten.
In the courtyard, we spot the rising shell of a moon,