The Poem that Can’t Be Written

Lawrence Raab


The poem that can’t be written...

...is different from the poem
that is not written, or the many

that are never finished—those boats
lost in the fog, adrift

in the windless latitudes,
the charts useless, the water gone.

In the poem that cannot
be written there is no danger,

no ponderous cargo of meaning,
no meaning at all. And this

is its splendor, this is how
it becomes an emblem,

not of failure or loss,
but of the impossible.

So the wind rises. The tattered sails
billow, and the air grows sweeter.

A green island appears.
Everyone is saved.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Source. About the poet. Illustration: "Ships in Heavy Sea Running Before a Storm," Pieter Mulier the Younger, c.1648 (National Maritime Museum, London)

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