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.

Rita Dove is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and accomplished novelist from Akron, Ohio. She is a Professor of English at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.
Originally published:
March 2, 2024



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