Phillis Levin

How It Is
November 22, 2019 Levin Phillis

How It Is

Say how it is
How easy
Too easy to say
How it is
Is not how it is
It keeps changing
Before it becomes
A was already it is
Altogether else
Say nothing it may
Stay still
How to say nothing
And say how it is
A bubble on a lake
Breaks in the dark
A streetlight goes on
Somewhere else an
Elastic band snaps
It burns a moment
To say how it is (say
How it is) to touch
The quivering
Hand of chance.

Phillis Levin is the author of five poetry collections, most recently Mr. Memory & Other Poems (Penguin Books, 2016), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; her other collections are May Day (Penguin, 2008), Mercury (Penguin, 2001), The Afterimage (Copper Beech Press, 1995), and Temples and Fields (University of Georgia Press, 1988). She is the editor of The Penguin Book of the Sonnet (2001). Her honors include the Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship, a Fulbright Scholar Award to Slovenia, the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Best American Poetry, Kenyon Review, The Nation, The New Republic, The New Yorker, Paris Review, Poetry, Poetry London, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. She lives in New York.