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Poem: One Paper Boat 

1.
The beauty of a black bird
is most easily discovered in snow.
That is why I am falling.

Isn’t there somewhere still to go
when the sun moves behind
our awareness of its presence?

In winter it is not known
if the tree is alive. That is why
I have been waiting so long.

Some day I will come to the bottom
of whatever reward I deserve.
That is how I will know you.

My head seems to be too small
for my expanding body. I want more
room to rest my thoughts upon.

Isn’t it easy to take for granted
the attendance of the individual parts
at the ceremony of the whole?

It’s as if the path had been
warmed all day by the sun
for its absence to rest upon.

If the seasons wish to move us along
we can’t refuse, but we can watch the green stems
rising through the stubborn stones.

2.
You will never know your spirit
if the past does not hold you nor
your body if the future does not.

I awake and suddenly I am here,
thinking of you there, waking.
How many of us there are.

At least one thing moving in the encompassing night
is not you, and one other thing moving nearby
is not me seeking you.

There are endings for everyone
but not for everyone’s absence. Yours
shows me to mine.

3.
There is nothing to fear
because nothing is more frightening.

Who can I serve if I am not
already brought forth to give pleasure?
It’s me at the table and I can’t take orders.


How many of you are there?
You can’t be who I am.
One is still too many.

It’s not important that I am happy,
and if it makes me happy to say that,
I am doomed to recurring pleasures.

I have gone to the shore and found
my strength and wept to be near you.
My little boat whispers you’re everywhere.

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  • Poetry is edited by Phillip Levine.

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