Archive for May 13th, 2009





“We are what is missing from the world”
~Fernando Pessoa


Some questions have no answer.
Raised, they hang there in the mind
Like open mouths, full of something missing.
The great Portuguese poet, Pessoa,
Said that the idea of happiness
Is what makes men permanently sad.
The body, imagining the soul,
Looks ugly to itself.
A man hears a word, and the world
Becomes a place that he misunderstands.
So he climbs high into his life,
Ashamed of all he doesn’t know,
And refuses to come down.

If you could coax him out again,
You could tell him, say,
That anything can be explained.
The shape of apples, for example,
By their love of travel.
Or that the sky is blue because
It’s an easy color on the eyes.

Even the dog, chasing its tail,
Has temporarily, a center.
Even the bird, disappearing into his hole
Knows that the world goes on without it.
And Pessoa, that eminently healthy man,
That artist, wore a blue wool hat
Even on the hottest summer days.
Simply to toss at strangers in the street.
He liked to see them catch it,
And grow immediately less strange.

~Tony Hoagland~
what have you lost?
Poems Selected by Naomi Shihab Nye


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