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About this Poem 

“George Oppen’s poem ‘A Theological Definition’ has stayed with me for many years. The center of that poem—its question and statement—forms the title plus opening of this poem, and so this poem sets out as an extension of the other, written in response to it, to its worldly theology and mystery, but also continues as a response to a certain experience of, and questioning of, that happiness in the present, and the consciousness that radiates around this experience in words. Words that manifest the poem’s existence through an act of faith, however transitory the world feels.”
Jeffrey Yang

What Is

or is true as

A pure river

Conditions for the equal good
to be as wise and fortunate

at the start

Lost in the pursuit

Under a white oak
two children sitting back
to back on a plank swing, calling

The hand
that touches the earth 
to witness

Presses the metal latch, opens
the screen door out from home

sunlight, pond water silence
damselfly at rest on a frond

Having come with you
this far into the drafty air

Copyright © 2015 by Jeffrey Yang. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2015 by Jeffrey Yang. Used with permission of the author.

Jeffrey Yang

Jeffrey Yang

Jeffrey Yang is the author of Hey, Marfa (Graywolf Press, 2018),Vanishing-Line (Graywolf Press, 2011), and An Aquarium (Graywolf Press, 2008).

by this poet

Lots of accidents
stabilizing this tau-
             crossed room
of adobe
shade, spaced
out with crumpled cars
Upon the concrete seal
float squares of light
sun-thaw, snow unsealed


Click the icon above to listen to this audio poem.

How easy it is to lose oneself
in a kelp forest. Between 
canopy leaves, sunlight filters thru 
the water surface; nutrients
bring life where there'd other-
wise be barren sea; a vast eco-
system breathes. Each 
being being 
being's link.