American Sonnet

“We do not speak like Petrarch or wear a hat like Spenser and it is not fourteen lines like furrows in a small, carefully plowed field

but the picture postcard, a poem on vacation, that forces us to sing our songs in little rooms or pour our sentiments into measuring cups.

We write on the back of a waterfall or lake, adding to the view a caption as conventional as an Elizabethan woman’s heliocentric eyes.

We locate an adjective for the weather.
We announce that we are having a wonderful time.
We express the wish that you were here

and hide the wish that we were where you are, walking back from the mailbox, your head lowered as you read and turn the thin message in your hands.

A slice of this place, a length of white beach, a piazza or carved spires of a cathedral will pierce the familiar place where you remain,

and you will toss on the table this reversible display: a few square inches of where we have strayed and a compression of what we feel.”

~ Billy Collins

American sonnet

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