By Kay Ryan b. 1945 Kay Ryan
In harmony with the rule of irony—
which requires that we harbor the enemy   
on this side of the barricade—the shell
of the unborn eagle or pelican, which is made
to give protection till the great beaks can harden,   
is the first thing to take up poison.   
The mineral case is soft and gibbous   
as the moon in a lake—an elastic,   
rubbery, nightmare water that won't break.   
Elsewhere, also, I see the mockeries of struggle,   
a softness over people.

Kay Ryan, “Soft” from Flamingo Watching. Copyright © 1994 by Kay Ryan. Used by permission of Copper Beech Press <>.

Source: Flamingo Watching (Copper Beech Press, 1994)

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Poet Kay Ryan b. 1945


 Kay  Ryan


Born in California in 1945 and acknowledged as one of the most original voices in the contemporary landscape, Kay Ryan is the author of several books of poetry, including Flamingo Watching (2006), The Niagara River (2005), and Say Uncle (2000). Her book The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (2010) won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Ryan's tightly compressed, rhythmically dense poetry is often compared to that of Emily . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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