Thursday, July 12, 2007


Phillis Levin (1998)

for Elfie Raymond

If it were not so bright,
Not so dark;
If there had been another hour,

Another storm,
Something to keep track of
Or something to hold at bay;

If there had been no bird
On the barest tree,
With one bitter crumb in its mouth,

One little speck;
If the honey surrounding that crumb
Had not been sweet,

If the evening had been less silent,
Humming one note
Without leaving any name,

Calling me to a field whose sickle moon
Made it clear
That nothing would speak;

If the way to the field
Had been less glorious,
A drop of dew beside a milkweed seed,

A ladybug scampering toward light,
And flowers on fire
Swaying among tall grasses—

A river of paper lanterns at dawn;
If the current did not carry
The scent of cyclamen,

Wild as grief
Spilling its horn of plenty,
Outlasting the final kiss of day.

1 comment:

dan1968 said...

from The Best American Poetry (1998)