On Writing A Poem (To The Student)

You ask me how
I write a poem;
How I change
Leaves to snowflakes
And snowflakes to starlight.
How starlight could ever—
But in a poem—
Embody a life,
And constellations,
The world.
How dirt
Could be heavenly
And the sky, base.
You ask me how
I write not in English,
But in the language of
The heart.

I answer this:
A leaf is a leaf,
A snowflake a snowflake.
Stars are scattered in the sky,
Celestial,
While dirt is trod beneath us,
Base.
I write no poem,
But the poem
Writes a world.
I do not speak
The language of the heart:
I write the words,
The poem writes the world,
The world sings to the heart
And that’s how
I write a poem.

(Honolulu, January 2002)

by Adam Maruyama

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