Poem of the Week: “Unmarked,” by Tim Seibles



for Natalie


So much like sequins

the sunlight on this river.

Something like that kiss—



Fourth of July, with the moon

down early    the air moved


as if it were thinking,

as if it had begun

to understand


how hard it is

to feel at home

in the world,


but that night

she found a place

just above your shoulder


and pressed her lips

there. Soft rain


had called off the fireworks:

the sky was quiet, but

back on Earth


two boys cruised by on bikes

trying out bad words. You turned

to reach her mouth,


at last, with yours    after weeks

of long walks, talking


about former loves

gone awry—


how the soul finally

falls down


and gets up alone

once more


finding the city strange,

the streets unmarked.


Every time you meet someone

it’s hard not to wonder


who they’ve been—one story

breaking so much


into the next: memory

engraves its hesitations—


but that night

you found yourself

unafraid. Do you remember


what the wind told the trees

about her brown hair?—

how the cool dark turned around:


that first kiss,

long as a river.


Didn’t it seem like you already loved her?


Off the sidewalk: a small pond,

the tall cattails, all those sleepy koi


coloring the water.



Center for Poetry intern Estee Schlenner had this to say about her choice of “Unmarked” this week:
I like this poem so much because, as a poet, it is difficult to write about love or most sentimental feelings, without leaning into clichés. I think Seibles walked that line perfectly. He spoke of love and a first kiss, while making it about so much more than that. I think it’s very admirable when a poet can write a poem like this because it’s a very difficult task to accomplish.


Published by cpoetrymsu

The Center for Poetry opened in the fall of 2007 to encourage the reading, writing, and discussion of poetry and to create an awareness of the place and power of poetry in our everyday lives. We think about this in a number of ways, including through readings, shows, community outreach, and workshops. We are at work building a poetry community at MSU and in the greater Lansing area. Contact: cpoetry@msu.edu (517) 884-1932 http://www.poetry.rcah.msu.edu

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