Pencil

By Marianne Boruch b. 1950 Marianne Boruch
My drawing teacher said: Look, think, make a mark.
Look, I told myself.
And waited to be marked.

Clouds are white but they darken
with rain. Even a child blurs them back
to little woolies on a hillside, little
bundles without legs. Look, my teacher
would surely tell me, they’re nothing

like that. Like that: the lie. Like that: the poem.
She said: Respond to the heaviest part
of the figure first. Density is
form. That I keep hearing destiny

is not a mark of character. Like pilgrimage
once morphed to mirage in a noisy room, someone
so earnest at my ear. Then marriage slid.
Mir-aage, Mir-aage, I heard the famous poet let loose
awry into her microphone, triumphant.

The figure to be drawn —
not even half my age. She’s completely
emptied her face for this job of standing still an hour.
Look. Okay. But the little

dream in there, inside the think
that comes next. A pencil in my hand, its secret life
is charcoal, the wood already burnt,
a sacrifice.

Source: Poetry (May 2012).

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

May 2012
 Marianne  Boruch

Biography

Poet and essayist Marianne Boruch grew up in Chicago. She is the author of seven collections of poetry, including, most recently, The Book of Hours (2011); Grace, Fallen from (2008); and Poems: New & Selected (2004). Her memoir, The Glimpse Traveler (2011), concerns a hitchhiking trip she took in 1971. In the Blue Pharmacy (2005) and Poetry’s Old Air (1995) are collections of her prose on poetry. In an interview with Brooke . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Painting & Sculpture, Poetry & Poets

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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