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It Might Save Us

Text of Poem

What they had in common
was common before they had it
like a box marked, ‘‘Pieces of string
too small to be saved,’’ or a piece
of mail stamped ‘‘Occupant.’’
They made the most of what
little they had to make a show
of something they could
count on as blossoms on their
apple tree meant fruit however
gnarled and wormy in the fall.
What they lacked was an unspoken
language neither could translate
without the other’s dictionary
and what they said did not fill
the empty sack of their needs.
Yet they lived together in a harmony
to shame more rambunctious neighbors
and maintained a lawn free from
creeping charley to make home
seem well tended. If they ever knew
how ordinary the tie that binds
bound them together, they wore
their hair shirts as illumination
and kept in touch day after day
with the instinct for preservation
which, god willing, may save us all.

First Line
What they had in common
Original Pub Location
Original Publication Date
Original Citation
The Complete Poems of James Hearst. Ed. Scott Cawelti. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2001. 496.
Complete Poems
Word Count
Poetic Form