Coming to That

By Dorothea Tanning 1910–2012 Dorothea Tanning
“If it comes to that,” he said, “there’ll be no
preventing it.”
He uttered it as I listened. Had I got it right,
hearing him?
“If it comes to that,” is what he said, and,
as if talking
to himself, went on about how there’d be no
preventing it.
He came to that conclusion, saying it in a
slow way of
coming to that, whatever that was it might
come to before
not being prevented—and as if such a thing
were for him
the unthinkable, and would prevail, if it
came to that.
 
And while listening more closely now to
what he said,
I realized if no one paid him heed, it would
be as if he
hadn’t said it—if it came to that—and would
then not be
prevented from falling to forces known to
care little for
what he said, even if they heard it, their
being wily
and forceful enough to make sure it would
come to that.

Dorothea Tanning, “Coming to That” from Coming to That. Copyright © 2011 by Dorothea Tanning. Reprinted by permission of Graywolf Press.

Source: Coming to That (Graywolf Press, 2011)

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Poet Dorothea Tanning 1910–2012

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, The Mind, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Dorothea  Tanning

Biography

Artist and writer Dorothea Tanning grew up in Galesburg, Illinois, and spent almost 30 years living in Paris, before moving to New York City. Tanning started writing poetry in her late ’80s, and her work was subsequently published in the Yale Review, the New Yorker, Poetry, and the New Republic. Her first collection of poems, A Table of Content, was published in 2004. The epigraph to A Table of Content comments that “it’s hard . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Arts & Sciences, Language & Linguistics

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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