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APRIL IS POETRY MONTH: Dan Chiasson's 'Opening Lines'
A shovel meets a hole in the bar:
Don't I know you from somewhere?
An implosion runs into a star:
Darling, what's the matter?
The boy in the Egyptian wing
Wanted one thing:
For his father
To lift him over
The glass case
Where the sarcophagus
For a century
The bones and treasures
Sold to collectors,
And to pretend
Again and again
To lower him in.
In my dream, I broke into the museum at night
And freed the birds first, and they flew,
And freed the massive cats, who strode,
And freed the fleet stags, who darted,
And freed the low-slung reptiles, and swarms
Of metallic insects and, best, butterflies;
Every creature returned to his element!
The cases flew open and motion returned.
It was alpha and omega tangoing.
But I had no water for the fish,
And I had no flesh for the bones
Of the giant whale that hangs in the hall;
And I had no time, so I left the mastodon alone.
More on this poem and author:
- Learn more about Dan Chiasson's Bicentennial.
- Browse other titles by Dan Chiasson.
- Hear Dan Chiasson read his work in Wellesley, MA or Concord, NH this month.
- Visit our Tumblr to share this poem and peruse other poems, audio recordings, and broadsides in our Knopf Poem-a-Day series.
- Submit your entry to our "Portray Your Love of Poetry" contest.
Excerpt from BICENTENNIAL. Copyright (c) 2014 by Dan Chiasson. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, LLC, New York. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.