Published on Academy of American Poets (

So Be It

If the neighbor’s roof is a shamble of broken tiles, so be it.

If those tiles sit there for weeks. If no one does a thing about them.

If the sky is gray day after day and then snow falls and the tiles turn into
fragments of a broken alphabet traced in snow, clinging.

Darkness, then dawn.

If beauty, as hoped for; if death as promised.

There is no reason not to say it: the woman with her head bent, reading, is

The train rocks beneath her, but she mostly sits in stillness.

A slight trembling of the page betrays the truth of things.

Meanwhile, a window above her bent head. A river and a bridge, a sky
darkening just beyond the window.

The bridge and the sky, the slight blue of a river: a world beautiful beyond
our understanding.

No reason not to say it: the woman will look up from her book, from the calm
page, from the story not her own.

In due course will suffer before she dies.

The small blue relief of the river is a darkening song without end.


Copyright © 2017 Jim Moore. Used with permission of the author. This poem originally appeared in Kenyon Review, November/December 2017


Jim Moore

Jim Moore was born on June 22, 1943, in Decatur, Illinois. He began writing in the mid-1960s and received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota and his master’s degree from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His poetry collections include Underground: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf Press, 2014), Invisible Strings (Graywolf Press, 2011), and Lightning at Dinner (Graywolf Press, 2005).

Date Published: 2018-04-23

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