Published on Academy of American Poets (

Gentle Collisions

extract longing.
                                                      fold its edges
in gold paper
                                                      to rest on a scale.

the catapult of one
                                                      plate plummets
the other swings
                                                      bobs and waits
for a leaf of one’s
                                                      want to waft down.

such gentle collisions
                                                      crush more than steel
crack more than bones             upon slight contact.


Copyright © 2015 by Tara Betts. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 29, 2015, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“People fail to realize how much devastation comes from loss and how even delicate measures underscore how a feather or the small see-saw of a scale can dole out the last intolerable blow. When I thought of that image, reminiscent of the Egyptian concept of ma’at, I knew that floating feather, and the gilded wrapping paper of grief would unfold into a back and forth of lines that began to resemble the up and down of a scale reconciling its received weight.”
Tara Betts


Tara Betts

Tara Betts is the author of Break the Habit (Trio House Press, 2016) and the chapbook 7 x 7: kwansabas (Backbone Press, 2015). She teaches at the University of Illinois-Chicago and lives in Chicago.

Date Published: 2015-12-29

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