Published on Academy of American Poets (

The Endless

I saw a yellow butterfly
in my opinion
the wrong way, flying across
the sound
to Connecticut

I saw a cormorant
close to the sea’s surface
as I floated on it on

my back in
the attitude of the crucifixion
minerals in my body
conversation with
the minerals of the sea

about the sun
how can I possibly
to what’s already been said
so well
by the ancients

and said with
an austerity I’ll never
it is an honor to take
a backseat to the ancients
who knew how

I was a fat white fish
under the sold-out stadium sun
like a god
but like a god
I could live through anything.


Copyright © 2017 by Timothy Donnelly. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 11, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote the first three stanzas of ‘The Endless’ in my head while floating on my back with my eyes closed under the sun over Long Island Sound. I felt invincible. I left the water with the sense that the poem would end up taking off in an eco-theological direction, probably concluding with an indictment of human greed and destructiveness (or something like that). Later that night, when I started typing it up, the poem turned out to have other ambitions for itself, so I stepped out of the way and let it go where it wanted to.”
—Timothy Donnelly


Timothy Donnelly

Donnelly's work has been widely praised. Jorie Graham has remarked that his poetry is "musically brilliant and articulate"

Date Published: 2017-09-11

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