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Friday, December 03, 2010

Poetry Friday--"Distances"

I came across "Distances" in Michael Hettich's Flock & Shadow: New and Selected Poems [811.6 HET]. What an interesting mix of large and small ideas--distances and birds. After reading it, do you experience wonder? Hope, or hopelessness? Does it make you laugh, or leave you with a pervasive sadness?

have shrunk the guest lecturer informed us,
to half their former dimensions, in only
the past ten years or so, and so,

to keep things balanced, we must use different
instruments to measure things, and different concepts
of measurement, new tools--or time itself

may be thrown off kilter, and we may well find
we've already lived our entire lives,
we're already dead and buried!

Everyone nodded and pondered and took notes.
Someone raised a hand. I could hear birds
singing, even through the sealed window, and I

wished I could identify species by song,
and I wondered how many birds live here, how many
pass through this city on their bi-yearly

journeys, how many different kinds
of song I'd have to memorize before
I could know them all by heart.

Visit Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for this week's Round-Up of poetry postings.

Photo by dsb nola


  1. I really like this poem. I would think the digression from the "original topic" would annoy me but instead it feels humanizing and relate-able. I can imagine being in your skin in that interesting and yet unsettling lecture and drifting off into ornithology instead.

  2. I definitely experience wonder and hope from this one! With a dash of melancholy thrown in at the impossibility of knowing all the wonderful things in this world, from bird songs to butterfly wings to every song I would connect with, if I only heard it. Thanks for sharing this one!