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    yellow pieces of paper

    Poem: “Annuals”

    Rhina P. Espaillat

    March 16, 2021
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    When we go limp and brown, for mercy’s sake
    leave us alone; don’t mangle our last shoots
    to press in any book; we have no stake
    in memory. Look, even our roots

    give up their modest holdings underground,
    and with no more excuse than one or two
    chilly October nights, leave what they found
    with so much effort then, when it was new.

    Don’t snip off sprigs to root for any spring,
    gifts for admiring neighbors who drift by
    and praise your green thumb—as if anything
    you do could cancel even one goodbye.

    You can’t. Pretend you know it; anyhow
    accept it, as we do—and you, by now.


    Read an interview with the poet.

    Contributed By portrait of Rhina Espaillat Rhina P. Espaillat

    Rhina P. Espaillat, a bilingual poet, is winner of numerous prizes including the T. S. Eliot Prize, the Richard Wilbur Award, and (twice) the Howard Nemerov Sonnet award.

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