By Sarah Arvio

I meant I was and I had always been
the thing I was, though I wanted to be
another version of what being was.

Ha! That would be a busman’s holiday,
or getting a buzz on, we used to say,
or borrowing from the bees or the birds

(and to do that to birds was why she came),
doing or being, been there and done that.
But it didn’t mean lunching on thrushes

and swallowing songs from a songbird’s throat,
or else driving in the back of the bus
or else being driven from up ahead.

Drive yourself to distraction was a thought
related to both being and doing.
These old thoughts were coming to me in droves—

not to make too much of a metaphor.
But there was no new news under the sun,
no new news and even fewer songs;

maybe newness was what I didn’t want,
maybe only a dose of otherness,
which didn’t mean death or eternity.

O wing O wing, and all the flourishes
arranged so neatly on my shoulder blades,
exotic and ornate on my plain back,

and as rideable as a Persian rug . . .
It was laughable but reassuring,
this tender fillip of the Renaissance,

Filippo Lippi painting in the wings,
a flitter or a flutter now and then,
and the announcement of a coming thing.

Sarah Arvio’s second collection of poems, Sono, has just been published by Knopf. After Visits from the  Seventh (Knopf, 2002) Arvio won the Rome Prize of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Guggenheim fellowship. She works as a translator for the United Nations.

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