One Poem by Philip Terman

One Poem by Philip Terman

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Wouldn’t we prefer to work outside among the bluebirds,
early June, late evening,

As they build their nest inside their customized box
On the arbor of the climbing roses?

Companionable creatures,
The way these two journey together,

Weaving their house,
Avoiding the sparrows?

But these endure, roosting their beauty,
Tracing each other from apple tree to arbor to apple tree.

Now, in the gray light after an all-afternoon rain,
One taps on the window,
Interrupting our serious attention to frivolous details,

A better model of behavior than Leviticus—

We want to hear them, so much music beyond our reach,
We wish to go out among the stars and become no one again, as we once were,
Before all this aching, and now the bluebirds sing

Over me and my daughter who,
In her last hours of childhood,
Charges across the just-cut field to climb a hay bale,
Solitary against the horizon—she sits, listening, dreaming:

Remember when we had no idea who we were?

We still don’t.

What is this thing, this body, still unformed,
What is this pulling inside us, this beating we count, lying awake,
This pulsing we hear, but still don’t believe, that will stop any time it wants,
Without warning, this deepest part of us that decides when it has had enough of us?

All afternoon and into the evening we dream that way.

But what would we do, afterward,
If a day suddenly opened up, every hour of it, dawn to dusk?

It’s ours, and all our longings, will we finally sort them out?
This one from that one, unspooling all those knotted strings?




Philip TermanPhilip Terman is the author of five full-length books of and four chapbooks of poetry, most recently Our Portion: New and Selected Poems (Autumn House Press, 2015). A selection of his poems, My Dear Friend Kafka, was translated into Arabic by Saleh Razzouk and published in Damascus, Syria. He teaches at Clarion University and directs the Bridge Literary Arts Center in Franklin, Pennsylvania. On occasion he performs his poetry with the jazz band, the Barkeyville Triangle.

Read Philip Terman’s Letter to America poem “Dear America: To My Friend in Aleppo” from

Header photo by Puffin’s Pictures, courtesy Shutterstock. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.