(poem of the day) ‘Testimonial’ by Rita Dove

Testimonial
by Rita Dove

Back when the earth was new
and heaven just a whisper,
back when the names of things
hadn’t had time to stick;

back when the smallest breezes
melted summer into autumn,
when all the poplars quivered
sweetly in rank and file . . .

the world called, and I answered.
Each glance ignited to a gaze.
I caught my breath and called that life,
swooned between spoonfuls of lemon sorbet.

I was pirouette and flourish,
I was filigree and flame.
How could I count my blessings
when I didn’t know their names?

Back when everything was still to come,
luck leaked out everywhere.
I gave my promise to the world,
and the world followed me here.

Rita Dove, “Testimonial” from On the Bus With Rosa Parks. Copyright © 1999 by Rita Dove. Reprinted by permission of W. W. Norton & Company, Inc..

Source: Poetry (January 1998).

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