The self steps out of the circle;
it stops wanting to be
the farmer, the wife, and the child.
It stops trying to please
by learning everyone's dialect;
it finds it can live, after all,
in a world of strangers.
It sends itself fewer flowers;
it stops preserving its tears in amber.
How splendidly arrogant it was
when it believed the gold-filled tomb
of language awaited its raids!
Now it frequents the junkyards
knowing all words are secondhand.
It has not chosen its poverty,
this new frugality.
It did not want to fall out of love
with itself. Young,
it celebrated itself
and richly sang itself,
seeing only itself
in the mirror of the world.
It cannot return. It assumes
its place in the universe of stars
that do not see it. Even the dead
no longer need it to be at peace.
Its function is to applaud.
Photo: Peter Bowers
with thanks: Poetry Chaikhana