Elliot called it "The Collective I,"
meaning you understand that if I
say "rosebush by the garden fence,"
you feel mulch under your shoes.
A thorny stem inclines toward you,
and the sun, which casts slats of shadow
onto the lawn, is warm on your cheek
even as you know you're reading my poem
because you're cerebral. Being human,
you have higher-order thinking skills,
so if I say it's the beginning of summer,
it rained last night and this morning
the grass is damp, if I say a few drops
have slipped from oak leaves to your hair,
aren't you there? Morning feels fresh,
you shake your head "Yes," and another
drop falls from you to one rose petal
just starting to bloom, It's still my poem,
but aren't you there? Faintly glowing
with the blush of some memory close
enough to mine to be your hair, your oak,
your rose? You can bend to touch it
if you want. It's our experience now,
even if it never happened anywhere
but here. It's a poem, but listen
in whatever part of your imagination
links my words to your heart. Hear
the screen door slam? Look up. Your father
is smiling at you and the garden and morning.
When he lifts you up and sings your name,
you will still be reading this poem,
but you will have become a moment
in my life, and I will know yours.