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About this Poem 
“Regarding this poem, I have very little to say. I tend to forget my poems as soon as they are written, but I am very happy while writing them. I do love how things we saw many, many years ago can suddenly crop up in a poem we wrote yesterday, and that happened here. I was once in the house of a clock-repairer and asked him how he could sleep with all that ticking—there were hundreds of working clocks on the walls—and he told me he was so used to it he had no problem at all. Me, I bury my alarm clock every night, as I cannot bear to hear the ticking!”
—Mary Ruefle
 

I Cannot Be Quiet an Hour

I begin
to talk to violets.
Tears fall into my soup
and I drink them. 
Sooner or later
everyone donates something. 
I carry wood, stone, and 
hay in my head. 
The eyes of the violets
grow very wide. 
At the end of the day
I reglue the broken foot
of the china shepherd
who has put up with me.
Next door, in the house
of the clock-repairer,
a hundred clocks tick
at once. He and his wife
go about their business
sleeping peacefully at night.

Copyright © 2018 by Mary Ruefle. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 31, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Mary Ruefle. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 31, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Mary Ruefle

Mary Ruefle

The poet Mary Ruefle is the author of many books of poetry, including My Private Property (Wave Books, 2016) and Trances of the Blast (Wave Books, 2013).

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for James Schuyler

Pink dandruff of some tree
afloat on the swimming pool.
What’s that bird?
I’m not from around here.
My mail will probably be forwarded
as quietly as this pink fluff
or a question or morphine
or impatience or a mistake
or the infinite

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Beloved, men in thick green coats came crunching
through the snow, the insignia on their shoulders
of uncertain origin, a country I could not be sure of,
a salute so terrifying I heard myself lying to avoid
arrest, and was arrested along with Jocko, whose tear
had snapped off, a
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Once upon a time there was a bird, my God.
—Clarice Lispector

I am the yellow finch that came to her feeder an hour before she died. I was the last living thing she saw, so my responsibility was great. Yet all I did was eat. Through eight long months of winter the