There are two versions of every life.
In the first one, you get a mother, a father,
your very own room,
a dandelion’s-worth of chances.
You learn to walk, which is only done by walking.
You learn the past tense of have, which is hunger.
You learn to ask almost anything
is to ask it to be over,
as when the lover asks the other
“Are you sleeping? Are you beginning
to go away?”
(And whether or not you learn it, life does not penetrate
more than five miles above the earth
or reach more than three miles beneath the sea.
Life is eight miles long.
You could walk it, and be there before sundown.
Or swim it, or fall it, or crawl it.)
The second is told from the point
of view of the sky.
Love from the field,
The Sadness of the Lingua Franca
In Bird, I speak brokenly. Hiss and flail and never learn.
And the swan will never mouth
the noun for bread,
the declensions of crumb. Though i could stop
its migration with a crumb.
After English, we never do get to be strangers again.
The language is famous and followed,
it has no loneliness left.
It has made it to the moon. It has got god
to speak it. It will get
to everything first, if it can.
But not the swan, pale as a page
I will never have written.