After a Vase Broken by Marcel Proust


What we know, we come to know

by its undoing: there is no permanent


exhibit here. Like August stars, we offer

temporary light, our lives measured


in latitudes of loss, the longest distance

between any two points in time.


And, errant, we are covetous: the humble

vase broken by Marcel Proust re-glued,


imbued with preciousness. He believed

that grief develops the mind. What is


the mind if not that surface upon which

the world can be endlessly rebroken?


You hold me in yours as you walk to the sea

and my clothes catch on brier and bramble.


The view familiar, like a page from a book

we once wrote, its single copy, in a library that burned.

Maya C. Popa is the author of American Faith and a second collection forthcoming with W. W. Norton in 2022. She is the poetry editor of Publishers Weekly and a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths, University of London.

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