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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, August 26, 2016.
About this Poem 

“To my surprise and (temporary) dismay, this poem I wrote for the wedding of two friends veered off into the pervasive anxiety of climate change. I was bummed out until I discovered I was on my way to making the argument that the beautifully hopeful act of eternally pledging oneself to another is, in some elusive metonymic way, related to our collective salvation.”
—Matthew Zapruder

Poem for Vows

(for E. and G.)

Hello beautiful talented
dark semi-optimists of June,
from far off I send my hopes
Brooklyn is sunny, and the ghost
of Whitman who loved everyone
is there to see you say what
can never be said, something like
partly I promise my whole life
to try to figure out what it means
to stand facing you under a tree,
and partly no matter how angry
I get I will always remember
we met before we were born,
it was in a village, someone
had just cast a spell, it was
in the park, snow everywhere,
we were slipping and laughing,
at last we knew the green secret,
we were sea turtles swimming
a long time together without
needing to breathe, we were
two hungry owls silently
hunting night, our terrible claws,
I don’t want to sound like I know,
I’m just one who worries all night
about people in a lab watching
a storm in a glass terrarium
perform lethal ubiquity,
tiny black clouds make the final
ideogram above miniature lands
exactly resembling ours, what is
happening happens again,
they cannot stop it, they take off
their white coats, go outside,
look up and wonder, only we
who promise everything despite
everything can tell them
the solution, only we know.
 

Copyright © 2016 by Matthew Zapruder. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 26, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2016 by Matthew Zapruder. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 26, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

Matthew Zapruder

Matthew Zapruder

Matthew Zapruder is the author of several books of poetry, including Come On All You Ghosts (Copper Canyon Press, 2010).

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the orange ball arcs perfectly into the orange hoop

making a sound like a drawer closing

you will never get to hold that

I am here and nothing terrible will ever happen

across the street the giant white house full of kids

turns the pages of an endless book

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All summer
it was on fire
I was as always
in California,
looking out my window,
discovering nothing,
then flying back
east far
above those forests
filled with black
smoke to feel
again that way
I will keep
failing to name.
O the same mistakes

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In Milwaukee it is snowing

on the golden statue 

of the 1970s television star

whose television house

was in Milwaukee 

and also on the Comet Cafe

and on the white museum 

the famous Spanish architect 

built with a glass 

elevator through it

and a room with a button

that when you press it

makes two