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Picnic, Lightning Analysis

Author: Poetry of Billy Collins Type: Poetry Views: 423

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It is possible to be struck by a

meteor or a single-engine plane while

reading in a chair at home. Pedestrians

are flattened by safes falling from

rooftops mostly within the panels of

the comics, but still, we know it is

possible, as well as the flash of

summer lightning, the thermos toppling

over, spilling out on the grass.

And we know the message can be

delivered from within. The heart, no

valentine, decides to quit after

lunch, the power shut off like a

switch, or a tiny dark ship is

unmoored into the flow of the body's

rivers, the brain a monastery,

defenseless on the shore. This is

what I think about when I shovel

compost into a wheelbarrow, and when

I fill the long flower boxes, then

press into rows the limp roots of red

impatiens -- the instant hand of Death

always ready to burst forth from the

sleeve of his voluminous cloak. Then

the soil is full of marvels, bits of

leaf like flakes off a fresco,

red-brown pine needles, a beetle quick

to burrow back under the loam. Then

the wheelbarrow is a wilder blue, the

clouds a brighter white, and all I

hear is the rasp of the steel edge

against a round stone, the small

plants singing with lifted faces, and

the click of the sundial as one hour

sweeps into the next.


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