Alteration Finds

By Geoffrey Brock Geoffrey Brock

Read the translator's notes


How many hours I kept
that vigil by your side—
entire nights, eyes wide,
as you so sweetly slept.

What I was wondering:
why you yearned to evade
the real. No one has prayed
harder for anything.

It wasn’t for your life
I feared, but for mankind.
Did you, in the end, find
secrets for changing life?


The head we cannot know,
nor its bright fruit, the eyes.
And yet the body has
its gaze: a lamp turned low.

Or else the breast would cease
to dazzle, the hips fail
to curve into that smile
that begets more than a kiss.

And flesh would lose all life,
not flare till there’s no blind
it can’t see you behind.
You must change your life.


The afternoon grew hotter
along our secret shore.
We thirsted in the glare
but couldn’t drink the water.

On golden sand we traced
your name beside the sea.
The wind came like a sigh;
our writing was erased.

How passionate our life,
how full of sex and song,
spirit and heart—how wrong!
And so we changed our life.

Source: Poetry (March 2012).


This poem originally appeared in the March 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2012
 Geoffrey  Brock


Born in Atlanta, Geoffrey Brock received an MFA from the University of Florida and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Brock’s poetry has been featured in several anthologies, including Best American Poetry 2007. His first collection of poetry, Weighing Light (2005), won the New Criterion Poetry Prize.

Commenting on the resemblance of Brock’s poetry to Philip Larkin’s, critic David C. Ward noted that Brock “invests his . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Body, Love, Desire, Romantic Love, Relationships, Men & Women

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

Report a problem with this poem

Your results will be limited to content that appeared in Poetry magazine.

Search Every Issue of Poetry

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.