Published on Academy of American Poets (


What with foresight and dancing,
gypsies would seem to pass easily
between worlds. The hummingbird too—

only a moth with a beak—
Have I ever heard it hum?

Yet it's everywhere welcome,
coaxed by red flowers, even sugar water,
for we are devious, in our desires.

And the dead, we embody them
for our own purposes. I can't talk
to a shadow, to an abstraction.

A sun worshiper, my brother,
always raising his face to it.
One touch and the body roar quieted.

Now, though I walk the length
of the park, he is not there.
He is nowhere under the sun.

I want the dead but I am with
the living. The tulips raise up their hands.
The lunch crowd swallows me.


Copyright © 2009 by Elaine Terranova. Originally published in Ploughshares. Used by permission of the author.


Elaine Terranova

Born in 1939, Elaine Terranova was selected by Rita Dove for the 1990 Walt Whitman Award for her debut collection The Cult of the Right Hand

Date Published: 2009-01-01

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