That Will to Divest

Kay Ryan

Action creates
a taste
for itself.
Meaning: once
you've swept
the shelves
of spoons
and plates
you kept
for guests
it gets harder 
not to also
simplify the larder,
not to dismiss
rooms, not to 
divest yourself 
of all the chairs
but one, not
to test what
singleness can bear,
once you've begun.

Kay Ryan ’s The Best of It: New and Selected Poems won the Pulitzer Prize. She was U. S. Poet Laureate from 2008 to 2010, during which time she championed community colleges like the one in Marin County, California where she taught for over thirty years. She received a 2012 National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama.
Originally published:
July 8, 2009


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