It is nice to know that The United States has a poet laureate, especially one as charming and quietly moving as Billy Collins. It is amazing that he hasn't been impeached (or burned at the stake in some religious-right  inquisition.) But then, how you you burn someone with such a sense of humor, such a gift with words? The following poem comes from the Random House publication, Sailing Alone Around the Room, New and Selected Poems.

Japan

 

Today, I pass the time reading

a favorite haiku,

saying the words over and over.

 

It feels like eating

the same small, perfect grape

again and again.

 

I walk through the house reciting it

and leave its letters falling

through the air of every room.

 

I stand by the big silence of the piano and say it.

I say it in front of the painting of the sea.

I tap out its rhythm on an empty shelf.

 

I listen to myself saying it,

then I say it without listening,

then I hear it without saying it.

 

And when the dog looks up at me,

I kneel down on the floor

and whisper it into each of his long white ears.

 

It's the one about the one-ton

temple bell

with the moth sleeping on its surface,

 

and every time I say it, I feel the excruciating

pressure of the moth

on the surface of the iron bell.

 

When I say it at the window,

the bell is the world

and I am the moth resting there.

 

When I say it into the mirror,

I am the heavy bell

and the moth is life with its papery wings.

 

And later, when I say it to you in the dark,

you are the bell,

and I am the tongue of the bell, ringing you,

 

and the moth has flown

from its line

and moves like a hinge in the air above our head.

 

- Billy Collins

 

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