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By Rita Dove

I acknowledge my status as a stranger:   

Inappropriate clothes, odd habits   

Out of sync with wasp and wren.   

I admit I don’t know how   

To sit still or move without purpose.   

I prefer books to moonlight, statuary to trees.   


But this lawn has been leveled for looking,   

So I kick off my sandals and walk its cool green.   

Who claims we’re mere muscle and fluids?   

My feet are the primitives here.   

As for the rest—ah, the air now   

Is a tonic of absence, bearing nothing   

But news of a breeze.


Rita Dove, "Reverie in Open Air" from American Smooth. Copyright © 2004 by Rita Dove. Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc..

Source: Poetry (Poetry Foundation, 2003)

  • Nature

Poet Bio

Rita Dove
The second African-American woman to be named Poet Laureate of the United States, and only the second to win a Pulitzer Prize for poetry (Thomas and Beulah, 1987), Rita Dove has achieved a great deal in her career.  Her multi-layered poems dramatize the stories of individuals both living and dead against the backdrop of larger historical forces. See More By This Poet

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