[T]here are so many ways to get an education. You can stare
down the winter at an empty city, make yourself airtight
for when summer sails in, a quiet ark where people come

in pairs; in the silence you hear them growing young and old.
How humble to be bound by birth, love, and death: the three
stories that wash us clean and join us snug as logs.

A thin-legged man brings a cocktail in plastic to his wife
on the Adirondack chair. They face the lake as the mountain
casts its shadow, aging up toward the sky. A couple arrives,

sixteen years old and carrying their shoes. She is slender,
her hips are just beginning. At the water she hugs herself, cold.
He pats her shoulder, ready to be a husband. And one small

girl in pink practices hopping. Her hat pink, her shorts pink,
her shirt pink, her feet bare. Her mother slings an infant
over a hip. Hop, hop. This girl’s face glimmers like water
in the pink evening. She will be all of us, one day.







It is not easy to be all
of these people all of
these days. Some days
one self rises too early
and steals the others’

sleep. Selves germinate
and one by one
drop out, or grow up
into new-selves or
wander, drifting off
at the slightest wind,
like infant spiders.

Now there are only
a few of me left: the
daughter, the word-lover,
the wife. The mother

flaps in the breeze,
a pristine new nightgown,
transparent and almost

too delicate to touch.


Elisabeth Sharp McKetta is the author of The Fairy Tales Mammals Tell and the founder of Poetry for Strangers. She teaches writing during the summer at Harvard and during the rest of the year in Boise.