Rita Dove

after Czeslaw Milosz

Ignore me. This request is knotted —
I’m not ashamed to admit it.
I won’t promise anything. I am a magic
that can deafen you like a rainstorm or a well.

I am clear on introductions, the five-minute flirt,
the ending of old news.
Broken color, this kind of wanting,
its tawdriness, its awkward uncertainties.

Once there was a hill thick with red maples
and a small brook
emerging from black briars.
There was quiet: no wind
to snatch the cries of birds flung above
where I sat and didn’t know you yet.

What are music or books if not ways
to trap us in rumors? The freedom of fine cages!
I did not want bad music, I did not want
faulty scholarship; I wanted only to know

what I had missed, early on —
that ironic half-salute of the truly lost.

Originally published:
October 22, 2021



Race Off

The fantasy of race transformation
Namwali Serpell


Suicide in Fiction, Reconsidered

Why we need stories about living after a suicide attempt
Morgan Thomas


Discipline and Abolish

Writing, power, and mass incarceration
Rachel Kushner,
Caleb Smith

You Might Also Like


Changing My Mind

On sources, revision, and order
Lydia Davis


Become a subscriber to get four beautiful issues a year for just $49—and help keep print culture alive.