“Old Pan.” A New Poem by Robert Wrigley

From His Twelfth Collection The True Account of Myself as a Bird

June 23, 2022  By Robert Wrigley

“Old Pan”
for lost boys

Windblown seedpod parasols lofted
from a withered western salsify blossom drift past me
in a cloud of silken Tinker Bells, a shitload even. Forgive me,

that’s just the sort of word my brain seizes upon
when I’m on the roof of the shack, sweeping off
half a haystack of pine needles and wondering what on earth

I’m doing here so far above the earth
at the age of seventy. The needles
have woven themselves to a kind of raffia mat that would,

if I were to step on it, sled off
down the slanted steel beneath me and cushion
my seven-yard fall hardly at all. So, sweep a little,

step a little, sweep a little, step. The this
blizzard of Brobdingnagian dandelion fluffs,
and I think to myself, Sweet heavens, Tinker Bells!

before remembering that ill-timed words
could break me too—swiftly if I’m lucky.
But my oh my, how I fell at twelve for the sleek, bewinged

and leggy little Tinker Bell on the Disneyfied big screen.
Just think how Tink wished woman-sized and flying
could solve today’s pine needle problem in a trice.

True, trice sounds like a wisp of swimwear but is in fact defined
as “to hoist,” and also as “an instant of time”—about as long as
a hoisted fool would take to drop twenty feet.

This is when my wife, not wishing to check
on me through the window, checks on me
through the window and perceives me propped

Astaire-like on a push broom and leaned a little too far out
trying to catch from the storm of salsify seeds asail around me
just one. No, no, I’m not grinning, I’m concentrating.

Nobody in the world ever wanted to grow up
believing this much in words,
even a paltry man upon a push broom, somehow still in love.


the true account of myself as a bird

From THE TRUE ACCOUNT OF MYSELF AS A BIRD by Robert Wrigley, published by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2022 by Robert Wrigley.

Robert Wrigley
Robert Wrigley
Robert Wrigley has won numerous awards for his work, including the Kingsley Tufts Award, the San Francisco Poetry Center Book Award, and a Pacific Northwest Book Award. He lives in the woods of Idaho, with his wife the writer Kim Barnes. The True Account of Myself As a Bird is his twelfth collection of poems. He is also the author of a collection of personal essays, mostly about poetry, called Nemerov’s Door.

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