By David St. John b. 1949 David St. John
They were sitting on the thin mattress
He’d once rolled & carried up the four floors   
To his room only to find it covered nearly all   
Of the bare wood
Leaving just a small path alongside the wall

& between them was the sack
Of oranges & pears she’d brought its neck   
Turned back to expose the colors of the fruit
& as she opened a bottle of wine
He reached over to a tall stack of books
& pulled out The Tao & with a silly flourish   
Handed it across the bed to her   she looked up   
& simply poured the two squat water glasses   
Half-full with wine & then she
Took the book   reading silently   not aloud   
As he’d assumed & suddenly he felt clearly   
She knew the way
Two people must come upon such an understanding   
Together of course but separately
As the moon & the wave remain individually one

David St. John, “Wavelength” from Study for the World’s Body: Selected Poems (New York: HarperCollins, 1994). Copyright © 1994, 2005 by David St. John. Reprinted by permission of the author.

Source: Study for the World's Body: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins Publishers Inc, 1994)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet David St. John b. 1949

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Love, Relationships, Men & Women, Desire, Infatuation & Crushes, Realistic & Complicated

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 David  St. John


David St. John has been honored, over the course of his career, with many of the most significant prizes for poets, including both the Rome Fellowship and the Award in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the O.B. Hardison Prize for teaching and poetic achievement from the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the George Drury Smith Lifetime Achievement Award from Beyond Baroque. He is the author of . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Love, Relationships, Men & Women, Desire, Infatuation & Crushes, Realistic & Complicated

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.