Published on Academy of American Poets (

Mist Valley

At the end of August, when all
The letters of the alphabet are waiting,
You drop a teabag in a cup.
The same few letters making many different words,
The same words meaning different things.

Often you've rearranged them on the surface of the fridge.
Without the surface
They're repulsed by one another.

Here are the letters.  
The tea is in your cup.

At the end of August, the mind
Is neither the pokeweed piercing the grass 
Nor the grass itself.  
As Tony Cook says in The Biology of Terrestrial Mollusks

The right thing to do is nothing, the place
A place of concealment,
And the time as often as possible.


Copyright © 2012 by James Longenbach. Used with permission of the author.


James Longenbach

James Longenbach is the author of five poetry collections: Earthling (W. W. Norton, 2017), The Iron Key (W. W. Norton, 2012), Draft of a Letter (University of Chicago Press,, 2007), Fleet River (University of Chicago Press, 2003), and Threshold (University of Chicago Press, 1998). Also a literary critic, he is the Joseph Henry Gilmore Professor of English at the University of Rochester. He lives in Rochester, New York. 

Date Published: 2012-08-17

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