from Lines Out to Silence

by Fanny Howe

I may never see the Vatican or Troy
but only let me sit in a car somewhere
I recognize as home by the hand
of the one I love in mine-

just once – O universe – one more time

Notes on the Poem

In just a few brief words and lines, Fanny Howe moves from the far-flung to the intimate and then spirals back out dizzyingly. Such spiritual and emotional immensity is encapsulated in less than 40 words. That's breathtaking, don't you think? Each phrase builds, with surprising power, from recognizable names of and symbols for types of beauty, to the simple things that surely everyone desires, cherishes if she has it and yearns for if she doesn't: "only let me sit" "somewhere I recognize as home" "the hand of the one I love in mine" ... and then it is wrenched by the sweep and the plaintive cry of the last line "just once – O universe – one more time" Fanny Howe has crafted in the span of less than two tweets (long before those succinct bursts of supposed communication became ubiquitous) something so piercing, so poignant.

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