seeing circles

The poem below by Billy Collins (one of Jim Culleny’s daily poetry emails) makes me sad and angry and wistful and hungry.
I’m not hungry for sweets. I surely eat enough of those.

Rather it’s a soul-deep hunger for the solitude to watch circles become salt, to reach for and conjure the words that make magic of metaphor.

And so I am angry that with each passing year I have had to move farther and farther from that place where destiny can be designed. And I am sad because those years can never be recovered. And I am wistful, finally, because that is what comes of and with age and the utter exhaustion of being someone else’s keeper.

Billy Collins
I pour a coating of salt on the table
and make a circle in it with my finger.
This is the cycle of life
I say to no one.
This is the wheel of fortune,
the arctic circle.
This is the ring of Kerry
and the white rose of Tralee
I say to the ghosts of my family,
the dead fathers,
the aunt who drowned,
my unborn brothers and sisters,
my unborn children.
This is the sun with its glittering spokes
and the bitter moon.
This is the absolute circle of geometry
I say to the crack in the wall,
to the birds who cross the window.
This is the wheel I just invented
to roll through the rest of my life
I say
touching my finger to my tongue.

2 thoughts on “seeing circles

  1. What a beautiful poem. I am so moved by it. I wonder if you will share more with me about being someone else’s keeper?

    Found you because I have two new tomato plants (thriving), and I am trying to capture and raise the tobacco worms who also like the tomatoes…

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