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Today's poem is by Cate Marvin

Letter for a Mentor

I am driving a screw into the plump of a cork.
I am ignoring the animal tracks left on my face.
I am lying at the bottom of a clothes hamper.

Bees crowd a trash can: a bouquet of stings.
I once asked a teacher where a letter begins.
How prickly I felt as I sat within his walls:

peach-hued, smoothly painted with Zen patience.
If I am to take his advice, I'll start with where
I am presently. I am a pelt full of gunshot,

too torn in death to be made a coat. I've endured
an eclipse each day, have learned to train my eyes
to avoid the sky's direct gaze. I take the sun's light

and put it on bread, eat daily a sandwich of red.
I never wanted to build a house without nails.
Or thought I could shod a horse, and fire the shoes.

Or desired to landscape a garden where rare buttery
moths would arrive each night for nectar. I won't lie
and say I didn't mind, that I didn't cry once,

wanting to make the teacher mine, so I might
be him. He said, never strike a typewriter,
for they are delicate instruments.
I am crouched

beneath the threat of toppling bookshelves.
Of all the change that rattles in my head, the pennies
are his: not worth much, yet not entirely worthless.



Copyright © 2002 Cate Marvin All rights reserved
from American Literary Review
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission

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