Field Guide

By Cynthia Zarin b. 1959 Cynthia Zarin
The stars are pinned between the leaves   
of the trees, and love is only a harbinger,   
a regular Boy Scout handbook
of things not to do, and how to do other things,   
small chores you’d never think of,   
and supper gets cold on the table.   
But I can’t leave here without
taking you with me.
And the formal customs we once had,   
like wearing red during hunting season,   
are only signposts pointing the way   
in and out of the territories—
colored leaves floating on the water,   
hesitant, before the rains come.

Cynthia Zarin, “Field Guide” from The Swordfish Tooth. Copyright © 1989 by Cynthia Zarin. Used by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc.

Source: The Swordfish Tooth (Alfred A. Knopf, 1989)

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Poet Cynthia Zarin b. 1959

Subjects Love, Relationships, Romantic Love

Poetic Terms Sonnet


Cynthia Zarin is a poet, journalist, and children’s book author. She earned a BA at Harvard and an MFA Columbia University, and has taught at Yale. Poet-in-residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, she has also been a long-time contributor to the New Yorker. Known for her exacting language, Ernest Hilbert noted that Zarin “composes formal, meditative poems that remind the reader of Elizabeth Bishop and Richard Wilbur.” . . .

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SUBJECT Love, Relationships, Romantic Love

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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