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In The Room


In the Room of a Thousand Miles,

by Billy Collins



I am writing about where I am,
where I happen to be sitting,
the humidity or the clouds,
the scene outside the window--
a pink tree in bloom,
a neighbor walking his small, nervous dog.
And if I am drinking
a cup of tea at the time
or a small glass of whiskey,
I will find a line to put it on.

My wife hands these poems back to me
with a sigh,
She thinks I ought to be opening up
my aperture to let in
the wild rhododendrons of Ireland,
the sun-blanched stadiums of Rome,
that waterclock in Bruges--
the world beyond my inkwell.

I tell her I will try again
and travel back to my desk
where the chair is turned to the window.
I think about the furniture of history.
I consider the globe, the light of its cities.
I visualize a lion rampant on an iron shield,
a quiet battlefield, a granite monument.

And then-- just between you and me--
I take a swallow of cold tea
and in the manner of the ancient Chinese
pick up my thin pen
and write down the bird I hear outside,
the one that sings,
pauses,
then sings again.


Here's a version you can download:

Download In_the_Room_of_a_Thousand_Miles.rtf