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Recorded for Poem-a-Day on September 15, 2017.
About this Poem 
“Though ‘Kettle’ encapsulates a morning ritual of brewing tea, I happen to be an avid coffee drinker—and a night owl—by nature. But I thoroughly enjoy making and drinking tea, especially Assam. And watching a low steady flame do its work, following the behavior of water as it comes to a boil, are pleasures in themselves. When the initial phrases bubbled up, I had no idea where this poem would go; now I see how its closing invokes the final turn of Rilke’s sonnet, ‘Archaic Torso of Apollo.’ An immobile object can initiate a conversation within oneself, a conversion of sorts: a common household item may beckon us, by virtue of its presence, to start anew."
—Phillis Levin
 

Kettle

Flame under the bubbling water.  
Blue flame. Water ready for tea.
 
Amber infusion soon to be seeping, 
 
Leaves about to uncurl. Here 
Is a tin, a spoon, a cup, an open 
 
Teapot saying, Nobody else but me
 
To nobody else but you: awaken, 
Pour. What are you waiting for?
 

Copyright © 2017 by Phillis Levin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 15, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Phillis Levin. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on September 15, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Phillis Levin

Phillis Levin

Phillis Levin is the author of Mr. Memory & Other Poems (Penguin, 2016).

by this poet

poem
I've decided to waste my life again,
Like I used to: get drunk on
The light in the leaves, find a wall
Against which something can happen,

Whatever may have happened
Long ago—let a bullet hole echoing
The will of an executioner, a crevice
In which a love note was hidden,

Be a cell where a struggling tendril
poem

 

in memory of Jean Blecker Levin

Not a trace, those days, not a sign
On a map of where you were from,
That farm greener than green

Rolling hills, hay high as a barn
Under skies without end, joy
Rolling too, the way

poem
Of something, separate, not 
Whole; a role, something to play 
While one is separate or parting; 

Also a piece, a section, as in
Part of me is here, part of me 
Is missing; an essential portion,

Something falling to someone 
In division; a particular voice 
Or instrument (also the score

For it), or line of