Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SMALL SELF AND THE LIBERAL SELF, by JAMES GALVIN

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE SMALL SELF AND THE LIBERAL SELF, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Perhaps you didn't realize
Last Line: "no one is allowed to speak now
Subject(s): Sky

Perhaps you didn't realize
Anything can happen under a sky like this.

Never give in to surprise:

Not for mountains
Who turn under sheets and breathe in
Each other's green scent;

Not for the lights where nobody lives;

Not for blood-colored mushrooms
That rise up one after one like little presidents;

Not for the small self, afraid
It has misunderstood the question.

Oh it's prepared to answer anyway,
It has its array of modest affirmations
Like anyone. Just that --

So many years and something in the leaves
Does not fall.

I find young starlings in the lake's ice,
Their wings spread like death-flowers pressed in a book;

Find moths spawned in the woodshed
Like a winter's supply of blossoms.

It's just that I was looking for a world
To walk into empty-handed.

That's when I found you, female, shamelessly
Sailing toward me in your folded paper boat.

Don't deny it, please.
At night the self feels smaller
And water is scarce in parts of the mind.

The small self is obliged, therefore,
To take back everything
Anyone has ever said.

No one is allowed to speak now
But you

Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P.O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA
98368-0271, www.cc.press.org

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