Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, WHY?, by KAREN SWENSON



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WHY?, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Why? Friends ask. Why there? Why not
Last Line: Around the why? The shrug of friends.
Subject(s): Travel; Journeys; Trips


Why? friends ask. Why there? Why not
a deck chair and a vodka tonic
by a Caribbean pool or tours
of Roman palaces in flat shoes?
I want the edge, I say, of white foam
lace on black sand, of curling temple
eaves. A blade I turn inward to
incise through sedimentary strata
of cultural shibboleths, stacked like
T-shirts in tidy categories
of size and color. I excise
an infant never born in my
own country. Caroler of words
kept mute inside my culture's mouth -
omniscient, hallow, awe - she knows
they're synonyms for rain, cicada,
rice, star, tree, the numberless
of the numinous. She
incants arpeggios of joy
around the Why? the shrug of friends.





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