On Rereading a Sonnet Written in 1951


It is as if a sketch in a child's hand
bearing the scene all children know–a cow
floating on crayoned green meant to be land–
became the place you could not know till now.
Look, fourteen lines you clothed in fancy dress,
in borrowed images, one day at school.
Silly, yet here and there, how luck may bless
with unsuspecting wit the simplest fool!
The ultimate grief, you wrote–as if you'd known,
who had not learned a thing but by report–
is to discover that one dies...alone.
How odd to be that girl, how long–how short–
the lifetime spent in learning if it's true,
what she suspected, what she somehow knew.


Rhina P. Espaillat, Her Place in These Designs, Truman State University Press, 2005.