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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Sick Child

(Randall Jarrell, poet laureate, 1956-1958;
there was a gap of several years in the


The postman comes when I am still in bed.
“Postman, what do you have for me today?”
I say to him. (But really I'm in bed.)
Then he says — what shall I have him say?

“This letter says that you are president
Of — this word here; it’s a republic.”
Tell them I can’t answer right away.
“It’s your duty.” No, I’d rather just be sick.

Then he tells me there are letters saying everything
That I can think of that I want for them to say.
I say, “Well, thank you very much. Good-bye.”
He is ashamed, and turns and walks away.

If I can think of it, it isn’t what I want.
I want . . . I want a ship from some near star
To land in the yard, and beings to come out
And think to me: “So this is where you are!

Come.” Except that they won’t do,
I thought of them. . . . And yet somewhere there must be
Something that’s different from everything.
All that I’ve never thought of — think of me!

~ Randall Jarrell (1914-1965), American poet, essayist, and novelist

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