Published on Academy of American Poets (


before me before
the picture
window, my arms
around you, our
eyes pitched
beyond our
reflections into—

(“into, I’d
written, as
though there
swung at the end
of a tunnel,
a passage dotted
with endless
points of
arrival, as
though our gaze
started just outside
our faces and
corkscrewed its way
toward the horizon,
as if looking
took time to happen
and weren’t
offered whole in
one gesture
before we
ask, before our
will, as if the far
Sonoma mountains
weren’t equally ready
to be beheld as
the dead
fly on the sill)—

the distance, a
broad hill of
bright mustard flowers
the morning light
coaxes open.


Copyright © 2021 by Forrest Gander. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 13, 2021, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“What begins as a simple description of a couple, the ‘I’ holding the ‘you,’ gazing through the picture window toward distant hills becomes a short meditation on the act of looking. The speaker ‘overhears’ himself describing vision as though it had to pass through what was near to reach what is further away. So he interrupts himself (and the pastoral tradition), and we leave the scene to enter his head until, at the end of the poem, he—and we—return to see the world.”
Forrest Gander


Forrest Gander

Forrest Gander is the author of several poetry collections, including Be With (New Directions, 2018), winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. He currently serves on the Board of Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets. 

Date Published: 2021-04-13

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