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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, March 14, 2017.
About this Poem 

“I wanted to write for my neighbor Miriam, an OB-GYN. All day she does her job and I do mine. She says it makes her happy that I’m a poet. What is my labor? Maybe being a poet; her thinking I’m over here doing whatever it is I do, is itself the gift. I don’t know.”
—Joy Katz

Poem

We should not have produced all this life.
Let’s say I am
in a state of heightened attentiveness.
Is this my gift? Do I take your head in my hands
and swivel it, or cast marbles around our feet, make a line I bring you behind?
Now: see the man on wire, taste the papery taste of “polity,”
grasscloth, a long marriage worn into the back steps.
Do I draw you into the middle ground with me, where everything is sharp?
Every night I pray for hard work.
My job is to make something for you.
All poets wonder if the brittle on a stick is enough.
Knowing the stick contains tender green is why it doesn’t crack when flung,
the crease of fox ears,
how the trash man paused with the storm glass,
holding it, making himself into a frame, a single frame—
all poets wonder if this is enough. See
how a boy is changed when he drops a stick, does not look back.
A taste lost in the movement of the second hand on a clock.
Watch closely:
once I loved you, this is the instant I don’t anymore.
All poets wonder if such calibration,
if the religion of rushing water, if wet tines,
waves in glass, ant eggs blent with brown sugar
that burst against the teeth, Agnes hanging off her father like a cobweb,
Agnes in her silver rubber flats, how sky tautens as you get near the sea—
all poets wonder if this is enough.
A crone in corpse pose. A voice cool as measuring salt.
Drawn in the circle of noticing.

Copyright © 2017 by Joy Katz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 14, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Joy Katz. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on March 14, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Joy Katz

Joy Katz

Joy Katz is the author of All You Do Is Perceive (Four Way Books, 2013).