The Gift Inside


Surprisingly dominant

the hard world —

flags and batons,

limos and air-conditioners,

mounted mooseheads,


Our soft bodyshells

must conform or be shed.

Yet the totems

within our heads

are not lampposts

without lamps.

Nothing the word —

that grammatical error,

that blank sticker affixed

to the frisson

of the variable —

a dispiriting magic.

As if we’ve somehow

met someone without

a confident otter,

a courteous raccoon,

an agreeable bluejay

within, living

its own life,

seeing and hearing

without eyes or ears

the ghostly bavardage

between our inner

and outer theaters.

The gift inside,

our own otherness

within us

near every reaching evergreen

every anonymous rock,

every resting butterfly,

beyond the rigidity

of human reason.

Steve Elder is in charge of Tea Service at the University of Colorado Law Library.

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