Life, Death, & Writing

Along with the cold spell in San Francisco has come bad news from everywhere, it seems. This morning I ran across a poem that impressed me back in 8th grade and has stayed with me ever since: a useful reminder that a sense of proportion can be a lever to move the world.

Interlude III by Karl Shapiro

Writing, I crushed an insect with my nail
 And thought nothing at all. A bit of wing
 Caught my eye then, a gossamer so frail
 And exquisite, I saw in it a thing
 That scorned the grossness of the thing I wrote.
 It hung upon my finger like a sting.
 A leg I noticed next, fine as a mote,
 'And on this frail eyelash he walked,' I said,
 'And climbed and walked like any mountain goat.'
 And in this mood I sought the little head,
 But it was lost: then in my heart a fear
 Cried out, 'A life—why beautiful, why dead!'
 It was a mite that held itself most dear,
 So small I could have drowned it with a tear.
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