To be a poet you must write
more than you know, hoping it to be true

that the words will have a life beyond the moment,
taking the shape of their meaning, like rain

filling a bowl—drops gathering into a fullness
that is wholly fresh and drinkable. I remember

the urge, last week, to describe to the poet in you
(for your birthday) how a spear of fireweed

delivered her pale fluff to the wind.
And how birdsongs tangled in the vine maples

and fell to the dry grass like lace. And the cricket,
faithful in his endless summer thrum,

sang simply what he was born to sing, knowing nothing
of the calm it brings us.

I’d wanted words to tell you how, as long shadows
took over the campground and sank into our bodies,

swifts and swallows, stitching the air, took
their fill of gnats while above them stars circled,

beyond speech. But I, astonished and grateful,
pondering the ongoing script of your life,

find no heart words adequate to send. Take
these, then. Perhaps you can fill in the gaps.

The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

To experience the full archive, log in or subscribe now.

Related Poetry

The Virgin and the Stone


Luis Felipe Fabre

image looking into the uppermost branches of a sparse apple tree. round apples hang lopsidedly and haphazardly on different branches. a hand reaches in to grab one.

Prodigal Ghazal


Jill Peláez Baumgaertner

Hirudo Medicinalis


Martha Serpas

Return to the Beginning


Jeanne Murray Walker

Pin It on Pinterest