Naming What Was Not (Cento)



Naming What Was Not (Cento)

The dark: an ocean for us all.
We could fall off one edge

or another, like the letter
that falls in the middle of an eye,

as if what we wanted
were not the thing that falls.

Precisely what the body resists
the body is. If you know

the names of a bird in ten
languages, do you know any more

about the bird? I thought that
all this was perhaps nothing more

than a way of remembering:
distance grows in the bones.

What’s called hearer is hearing. Oh
this is the animal that never was.



Credits: Katherine Coles, Vicente Huidobro, Jane Hirshfield, Sean Hill, Arthur Sze, Dawn Lundy Martin, Cecilia Vicuña, Sean Hill, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Rainer Maria Rilke.

A cento is composed of lines from poems by other poets.

For further information and examples of the form, you might peruse the Academy of American Poets site:


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