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Published: Mon Oct 15 1979
Wosene Worke Kosrof, The Inventor V (detail), 2022, acrylic on linen. Courtesy of Sullivan Goss Gallery, Santa Barbara, California
Two Things


Catch a swallow breaking past a window
and you have for your own piece of somewhere else,
snow dauntless on rooftops or a split of headlights
turning a country road. You’ll never hear
the northern lights singing their way home.
Better this group effect
of limbs warmed
on a glowing carpet,
our bodies our star-song.
The scarlet hollow of your neck is one place
where we can lose whatever we’ve won, our maladjustment
as carefully disordered as these objects—
burning log and lamp, old shoes, brass unicorn,
jacket and watchcap sagging on a chair.
Here before the fire you taste for a moment
the gritty water of death among all things.


Who will stay and listen
for rain in April? or study
fingers splayed on a cushion?
You owe me nothing
but a certain resilience.
A calf slipping on loose gravel
or hummingbird pausing the air
are images of what you mean to me,
not of what you say you are.
Nowhere is your only
useful cunning background.
I still hear my words
wanting to become you.

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Simone Di Piero has published thirteen collections of poetry—most recently The Complaints (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2019)—and six volumes of essays and criticism, including last year’s Fat: New and Uncollected Prose (Carnegie Mellon, 2020). His work has appeared in The Best American Essays twice, and his translation of This Strange Joy: Selected Poems of Sandro Penna (1982) won him the Academy of American Poets’ first Raiziss/de Palchi Book Prize. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2001, and won the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize in 2012. He lives in San Francisco. (updated 4/2021)


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