Poem – Japan – Billy Collins

Today I pass the time reading 

a favorite haiku, 

saying the few words over and over. 
It feels like eating 

the same small, perfect grape 

again and again. 
I walk through the house reciting it 

and leave its letters falling 

through the air of every room. 
I stand by the big silence of the piano and say it. 

I say it in front of a painting of the sea. 

I tap out its rhythm on an empty shelf. 
I listen to myself saying it, 

then I say it without listening, 

then I hear it without saying it. 
And when the dog looks up at me, 

I kneel down on the floor 

and whisper it into each of his long white ears. 
It’s the one about the one-ton temple bell 

with the moth sleeping on its surface, 
and every time I say it, I feel the excruciating 

pressure of the moth 

on the surface of the iron bell. 
When I say it at the window, 

the bell is the world 

and I am the moth resting there. 
When I say it at the mirror, 

I am the heavy bell 

and the moth is life with its papery wings. 
And later, when I say it to you in the dark, 

you are the bell, 

and I am the tongue of the bell, ringing you, 
and the moth has flown 

from its line 

and moves like a hinge in the air above our bed.

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