“Without,” a Poem by John Freeman

From the Collection Wind, Trees

December 5, 2022  By John Freeman


Maybe one day I will learn how to live
without, without her and her, and she and
them, without him. Lately, I am mostly
absence. I have lived so long within
my body’s clever disguise, so complete
this heart, these eyes. But maybe a body’s

largely past tense. Like a house empty but
for hours a chill blows through it. Maybe
I am like wind briefly still, a column
of air that found a form to fill. Waiting
for a sign to go where wind goes when it’s
not with us—when without becomes within.


Excerpted from Wind, Trees by John Freeman. Copyright © 2022. Available from Copper Canyon Press.

John Freeman
John Freeman
John Freeman is the editor of Freeman’s, a literary annual of new writing, and executive editor of Literary Hub. His books include How to Read a Novelist and Dictionary of the Undoing, as well as a trilogy of anthologies about inequality, including Tales of Two Americas, about inequity in the US at large, and Tales of Two Planets, which features storytellers from around the globe on the climate crisis. Maps, his debut collection of poems, was published in 2017, followed by The Park in 2020. His work has been translated into more than twenty languages and has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and The New York Times. He is the former editor of Granta and teaches writing at NYU.

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