By Michelle Y. Burke
A man can give up so much,
can limit himself to handwritten correspondence,
to foods made of whole grains,
to heat from a woodstove, logs
hewn by his own hand and stacked neatly
like corpses by the backdoor.

He can play nocturnes by heart.
They will not make the beloved appear.
He can learn the names of all the birds
in the valley. Not one
will be enticed to learn his.

Poem copyright ©2009 by Michelle Y. Burke and reprinted from Lake Effect, Vol. 13, Spring 2009, by permission of Michelle Y. Burke and the publisher.

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Poet Michelle Y. Burke

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Life Choices, Love, Nature

 Michelle Y. Burke


Born in Pennsylvania, Michelle Y. Burke earned a BA in creative writing from Loyola University Maryland, an MFA in poetry from the Ohio State University, and a PhD in English from the University of Cincinnati. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry, New Orleans Review, Georgetown Review, Lake Effect, and elsewhere.
She lives in Brooklyn and teaches at Hostos Community College in the Bronx.

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SUBJECT Life Choices, Love, Nature

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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