By Deirdre O'Connor Deirdre O'Connor
Though there's no such thing as a "self," I missed it—
the fiction of it and how I felt believing in it mildly
like a book an old love sent with an inscription
in his hand, whatever it meant,
After such knowledge, what forgiveness . . .

—the script of it like the way my self felt
learning German words by chance—Mitgefühl,
Unheimlichkeit—and the trailing off that happened
because I knew only the feelings, abstract
and international, like ghosts or connotations
lacking a grammar, a place to go:

this was the way my self felt when it started
falling apart: each piece of it clipped
from a garden vaguely remembered
by somebody unrecognizable—
such a strange bouquet that somebody sent
to nobody else, a syntax of blossoms.

Source: Poetry (September 2001).


This poem originally appeared in the September 2001 issue of Poetry magazine

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September 2001


Deirdre O'Connor just received the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Prize, which includes publication of her manuscript, The Hiss of the Spirit. Her journal credits include Cross Connect, Thirteenth Moon, and Painted Bride Quarterly, among others.

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Living, Disappointment & Failure, Philosophy, Coming of Age

Poetic Terms Free Verse, Allusion

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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