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A Conversation

by Nancy Clark
A hundred times have I returned to read
This poem.
"Just one among so many?"
I make reunions with great poetry,
Yet this one do I specially engage,
I smooth the page; my fingers trace the lines.
"Have you committed it to memory?"
Like brush strokes of a painting, fixed on canvas,
Word by word I hold it in my mind.
"Why, then, visit it on the page?"
I am compelled to see the lines and read,
As sight is drawn to fireside's dancing flames
Or pulled to lapping waves along a shore.
"And do you read aloud?"
Like intonation of a common prayer,
This poem's voice is live and must be heard.
And quiet is my soul for listening,
Prepared for speaking with the voice I hear.
"It is a conversation, then?"
Each time I bring my longer life to share,
My newest shout or frown or mellowing,
And sit amazed to find the poem grown
With me, itself matured, increased in art.
It seems to nod and say, "I understand."

This line gives distance to my pressing care,
This celebrates my zest; this stays a doubt
This turns my anger to hilarity.
This phrase approves me; this one proves me true,
Pinches my arm and wipes my lenses clean.
"The poem seems tangible, even clothed in flesh."
If that seems true, then I'd envision
Reaching out my arms to give a parting hug.

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Copyright © 2000 by Nancy Clark. All rights reserved.