A Poem by Liz Colville


I’m waiting to be seen
inside of a book,
a divine waiting room.
A new place crushes under me,
the kind an animal only runs through
when it’s being chased, limbs built
without assistance, and content.
I had wanted to get
where I was going. Fell down,
kind of laid there. No one
passed. Thought I was a castle.
Came to
with unmoving legs, shook them
awake. Walked back to a place
I didn’t know you and found I still
know you. Hearing other voices
got me out. But I’ve heard yours
for so long, a massive quiet
blanketed interference
with my dream of knowing no one.
I should have known
that these birds
were not conversing, they were
arguing about a tree. The tree
just waited. Take away words
and there are trees and species
still arguing, the lesser goldfinch
and the Steller’s jay,
arranging and rearranging
oral tradition. The finches
sit in near-silence until the light
starts passing behind
the lip of the sea.
Realize then
the argument is an intricate
goodnight to the sun.
You have to stay
in one place awhile to know that.
What a luxury to not move. I sat
in the dark and thought about
your own stillness
and what I’ve learned as the sanctity
above all else
of shared experience. It’s sheltering,
but I want to say, as if to warn you
about the weather, it’s not
the same as being known,
unless you know
something I don’t, like
that your repetition in the dark makes
the darkness lighter.
Know there is something living
above you in the canopy,
it just doesn’t
speak or sing, and it never worries
about whether
it will ever totally work
between man and the world.

Liz Colville’s poems have appeared in Lungfull! and Abe’s Penny, and she released a book of short fiction, Cover Story, in 2012. She was the founding writer at The Hairpin.

The Poetry Section is edited by Mark Bibbins.