As If

By J. Allyn Rosser b. 1957
How do you explain why elephants
appear to move their unwieldy hulks
with greater dignity than most humans do
in their finest moments,
as if they had evolved beyond wanting
anything but what they have?
Why does the field begin to ripple
before the wind arrives in whispers,
as if there were a communication,
as if the landscape were poorly dubbed,
and we weren’t expected to notice?
What butterfly does not dart away from us
as if it could sense our latent cruelties,
and yet return to check and double-check?
Has the night not gotten recently darker,
as if to insinuate that we have squandered
the light that was there?
Have we made too much of our own?
And did you notice afterward the dawn
opening up with a tentative eagerness
as if there were something crucial to illumine,
as if we would wake up early just to see it?
I imagine you reading this now
with an expression of quiet trouble
itself troubled by currents of hope,
as if you imagined me here with you,
as if I might be able to see your expression,
and at least answer it with mine.

Source: Poetry (November 2011).

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This poem originally appeared in the November 2011 issue of Poetry magazine

November 2011
 J. Allyn Rosser

Biography

J. Allyn Rosser was born in Pennsylvania and attended Middlebury College in Vermont as well as the University of Pennsylvania where she earned a doctorate. Her works include Bright Moves (1990), which won the Morse Poetry Prize, and Misery Prefigured (2001), winner of the Crab Orchard Award. In 2007 she was awarded The New Criterion Poetry Prize for a new book of poems entitled Foiled Again, published in the Fall of 2007. . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Animals, Landscapes & Pastorals, Religion, Faith & Doubt

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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