It’s all here

What scene would I want to be enveloped in
more than this one,
an ordinary night at the kitchen table,
floral wallpaper pressing in,
white cabinets full of glass,
the telephone silent,
a pen tilted back in my hand?

It gives me time to think
about all that is going on outside–
leaves gathering in corners,
lichen greening the high grey rocks,
while over the dunes the world sails on,
huge, ocean-going, history bubbling in its wake.

But beyond this table
there is nothing that I need,
not even a job that would allow me to row to work,
or a coffee-colored Aston Martin DB4
with cracked green leather seats.

No, it’s all here,
the clear ovals of a glass of water,
a small crate of oranges, a book on Stalin,
not to mention the odd snarling fish
in a frame on the wall,
and the way these three candles–
each a different height–
are singing in perfect harmony.

So forgive me
if I lower my head now and listen
to the short bass candle as he takes a solo
while my heart
thrums under my shirt–
frog at the edge of a pond–
and my thoughts fly off to a province
made of one enormous sky
and about a million empty branches.

– Billy Collins, I Ask You

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  1. Posted April 3, 2015 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Oh, Lindsey, this took my breath away. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Posted April 3, 2015 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Oh my goodness, is this wonderful. The floral wallpaper pressing in, the clear ovals of a glass of water. I mean, it’s like you’re right there with him. Top priority: finding out whether my library has some of his work. Thank you for the introduction.

  3. Posted April 3, 2015 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Lindsey, I have missed you!

  4. Posted April 3, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Gorgeous. I’m there with him.

  5. Posted April 4, 2015 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    Oh how I love Billy Collins. Thanks for sharing. xo

  6. Posted April 5, 2015 at 2:05 pm | Permalink


    Sometimes I think there is nothing quite so poignant as knowing that you can yearn, but true contentment is already in you.

  7. Posted April 9, 2015 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    Beautiful — love this!