Tuesday, March 17, 2009


I went to a reading by Billy Collins last night. I'd actually never heard of him before (I say as I pause to regret not pursuing a double major in both chemistry and English...sigh), but he was Poet Laureate from 2001-2003. I'm so glad that my boyfriend suggested we go to the reading because he was wonderful! His poetry was brilliant and beautiful but also incredibly witty and irreverent and approachable.
I bought a copy of his newest book, Ballistics, and was able to get it signed.
Here's the text of one of the poems he read last night that I particularly enjoyed.

You are the bread and the knife,
The crystal goblet and the wine...

—Jacques Crickillon

You are the bread and the knife,
the crystal goblet and the wine.
You are the dew on the morning grass
and the burning wheel of the sun.
You are the white apron of the baker,
and the marsh birds suddenly in flight.

However, you are not the wind in the orchard,
the plums on the counter,
or the house of cards.
And you are certainly not the pine-scented air.
There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air.

It is possible that you are the fish under the bridge,
maybe even the pigeon on the general's head,
but you are not even close
to being the field of cornflowers at dusk.

And a quick look in the mirror will show
that you are neither the boots in the corner
nor the boat asleep in its boathouse.

It might interest you to know,
speaking of the plentiful imagery of the world,
that I am the sound of rain on the roof.

I also happen to be the shooting star,
the evening paper blowing down an alley
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.

I am also the moon in the trees
and the blind woman's tea cup.
But don't worry, I'm not the bread and the knife.

You are still the bread and the knife.
You will always be the bread and the knife,
not to mention the crystal goblet and—somehow—the wine.

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