The Flight

By Grace Schulman b. 1935 Grace Schulman
That day I hired a private detective to follow me,   
and could not read his notes. In a tangled grove,   
I hid behind white pines, compressed my body,   
then watched him write, left-handed and myopic,   
under an Irish cap, when I asked for help   
from strangers who spoke Slavic languages.   
Wary, moving ahead, I found a depot,
watched an immense train churn, haloed in steam,   
and boarded, second class. I had no ticket,   
and my expired passport represented
a drooping head with unfamiliar eyes.
Unshaken, rows behind, the stranger waited,   
wielding camera and pen. Across the border
I disembarked, but knew he would capture me,   
with soundless footsteps, even on black gravel.

I tried to recall my crime. I know I am guilty,
but never why. Lawless, I have ignored
those signs: WRONG WAY; GO BACK and NO WAY OUT,   
circles that tell me YOU ARE HERE. I gather
it is the whispers that explode, the looks
that make dogs whimper. When I bow in prayer
I think of love; I know I’ve killed my friends,
pelting them with a touch—and yet I’ve heard
they are alive. Besides, that’s not the real

offense. I would cross any path, or trek
through swamps to find my crime. But even he,   
that bald, insistent man who follows me,   
unsleeping, cannot tell me what I’ve done.

Grace Schulman, “The Flight” from Days of Wonder: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2002 by Grace Schulman. Reprinted with the permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved,

Source: Days of Wonder: New and Selected Poems (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2002)

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Poet Grace Schulman b. 1935

Subjects Crime & Punishment, Social Commentaries

 Grace  Schulman


Poet and editor Grace Schulman was born in 1935 in New York City, studying at Bard College, American University, and New York University, where she earned her PhD. She is distinguished professor of English at Baruch College, CUNY, and served as the poetry editor of the Nation from 1972 to 2006. She also directed the 92nd Street Y Poetry Center from 1973 to 1985. She has published six collections of poetry, including Days of . . .

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SUBJECT Crime & Punishment, Social Commentaries

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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