The Fabric of Life

By Kay Ryan b. 1945 Kay Ryan
It is very stretchy.   
We know that, even if   
many details remain   
sketchy. It is complexly   
woven. That much too   
has pretty well been   
proven. We are loath   
to continue our lessons   
which consist of slaps   
as sharp and dispersed   
as bee stings from   
a smashed nest   
when any strand snaps—

hurts working far past   
the locus of rupture,   
attacking threads   
far beyond anything   
we would have said   

Source: Poetry (June 2000).


This poem originally appeared in the June 2000 issue of Poetry magazine

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June 2000
 Kay  Ryan


Born in California in 1945 and acknowledged as one of the most original voices in the contemporary landscape, Kay Ryan is the author of several books of poetry, including Flamingo Watching (2006), The Niagara River (2005), and Say Uncle (2000). Her book The Best of It: New and Selected Poems (2010) won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Ryan's tightly compressed, rhythmically dense poetry is often compared to that of Emily . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Living, Disappointment & Failure, School & Learning, Activities


Poetic Terms Free Verse, Consonance, Metaphor

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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