Two Poems by Miriam Levine


These days when wind wears itself out and sun warms the sidewalk,
bare-throat days, when silver floss bulges from milkweed pods
but does not blow away, and leaves float like scattered thoughts,
when the hinge between fall and winter does not move,
and those nights, too, when long past midnight, windows
are flooded with light, and it seems everyone on this street is awake,
tuned to something we cannot see, something I imagine faith to be.


Pigeons at the Condo

Though some say kill them, the words you love
are shadow, twilight, flood. They come with mist
and drift in dreamlike states that free other words,
like lilac, ocean, wing—a conspiracy.
In whispers. Know thyself, the ancients say,

and you obey, hearing words as breath
laurels breathe. When wind releases a leaf
you are released from the insistent
throaty call of pigeons turning and turning
in a balcony dance among excrement.

CDs you string on long strings from the rail
swing, flash, twirl blue and silver violet.
Light as they are, they knock when wind drives them.
Light as they are, they shock and terrify.
Where pigeons once turned there’s only a flash.


Miriam Levine is the author of Saving Daylight, her fifth collection of poetry. Another collection, The Dark Opens, was chosen by Mark Doty for the Autumn House Poetry Prize. Other books include: Devotion, a memoir; In Paterson, a novel. Her work has appeared in American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, The Paris Review, and Ploughshares. Levine, a fellow of the NEA and a grantee of the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, lives in Florida and New Hampshire. For more information about her work, please go to

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