Billy Collins

Home Life
March 20, 2012 Collins Billy

Home Life


I was sitting still in an armchair

with nothing on my mind but birdsong

and the appearance of a bookcase,

yet I felt a distinct sensation of travel.


Several countries seemed to slip by

as if I were on a morning train

heading across a wide plain

into the mountains, the window full of cows.


I stayed in the chair for about an hour–

the moody hour before dinner–

but it felt like several months,

one of them featuring a national holiday.


Finally, the winter sun sank

behind the silhouette of a landscape,

leaving me alone in the dark where

the sound of breathing seemed to be coming,


not from the dog on the rug,

but from a lost tribesman tending his cook fire,

a thread of blue smoke rising

from a forest on a continent directly to the south.

Billy Collins’ latest collection is Musical Tables: Poems (Random House 2022). In 2017, he was admitted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.