Oh pile of white shirts who is coming
to breathe in your shapes to carry your numbers
to appear
what hearts
are moving toward their garments here
their days
what troubles beating between arms

you look upward through
each other saying nothing has happened
and it has gone away and is sleeping
having told the same story
and we exist from within
eyes of the gods

you lie on your backs
and the wounds are not made
the blood has not heard
the boat has not turned to stone
and the dark wires to the bulb
are full of the voice of the unborn

  • W. S. Merwin, “The Night of the Shirts” from The Second Four Books of Poems (Port Townsend, Washington: Copper Canyon Press, 1993). Copyright © 1993 by W. S. Merwin. Reprinted with the permission of The Wylie Agency, Inc.

  • Source: The Second Four Books of Poems (Copper Canyon Press, 1993)

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"I was surprised how attached I got to my poems. I've had "Degrees of Gray in Philipsburg" memorized since my sophomore year, and whenever I get nervous or anxious about something I recite it to myself. "
Sarah Calvin-Stupfel
2018 OR POL Champ