"...White of Forgetfulness, White of Safety".
My mother was burning in a closet.
Creekwater wrinkling over stones.
Sister Damien, in fifth grade, loved teaching mathematics. Her full
white sleeve, when she wrote on the board, Swayed like the slow movement
of a hunting bird, Egret in the tidal flats, Swan paddling in a pond.
Let A equal the distance between x and y.
The doves in the desert, Their cinnamon coverts when they flew.
People made arguments. They had reasons for their appetites. A child
could see it wasn't true.
In the picture of the Last Supper on the classroom wall, All the
apostles had beautiful pastel robes, Each one the color of a flavor of
A line is the distance between two points.
A point is indivisible.
Not a statement of fact; a definition.
It took you a second to understand the difference, And then you loved
it, loved reason, Moving as a swan moves in a mill stream.
I would not have betrayed the Lord Before the cock crowed thrice, But I
was a child, what could I do When they came for him?
Ticking heat, the scent of sage, Of pennyroyal. The structure of every
living thing Was praying for rain.
ROBERT HASS served as poet laureate of the United States from
1995 to 1997; he is currently a chancellor of the Academy of American
Poets. The poems in this issue all appear in his forthcoming book, Time
and Materials, Poems 1997-2005 (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2007).