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Themselves Performing Small Brave Acts

Books tell us how to pierce the neck,

how to open the airway of a fellow passenger

with a hollow pen, how to wrestle an alligator,

but not how to out-swim a bear.

There’s no out-swimming a bear.

Books tell us about men on mountaintops

who freeze without ever putting on

the extra sweaters in their packs,

who starve with food in their pockets,

poor bastards, they tell us how not to be like them.

We bring ourselves to very cold places

so we may feel warmer when we huddle inside.

We admire the raptors that live in our city,

a city we’d thought unfit for the wild,

the way they soar above traffic and make nests

of pylons and still manage to find trees.

We admire the way they wait for mates

no one believes will ever come

and the way they mate, and the way they wait

for a new mate when the old one suddenly is gone.

from Little StrangerFind it in the library

Copyright © 2013 Lisa Olstein
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc.
on behalf of Copper Canyon Press.

Published in Lisa Olstein Poems

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.