On Growth

Dressed all in plastic,
which means oil,

we’re bright-eyed, scrambling
for the colored cubes

on the rug’s polymer.

Inside each 
is a tiny car.

When we can’t unscrew the tops
we cry for help.

We’re optimists.


To sleep is to fall
into belief.

Airing even
our worst suspicions
may be pleasurable;

we are carried,

In sleep,
the body can heal,
grow larger.

Creatures that never wake
can sprout a whole new

a tail.

This may be wrong.


Copyright © 2020 by Rae Armantrout. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 8, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“The first section of ‘On Growth’ began while I was babysitting my young granddaughters and suddenly realized that everything in our immediate environment was a petroleum product. The second section brings together some uneasy ruminations on sleep/unconsciousness and growth. ‘To sleep is to fall/into belief’ and also, sometimes, vice versa. It is in sleep that the young grow and that ‘lower’ animals transform. In our toxic environment, we can’t necessarily expect growth to be benign.”
Rae Armantrout