from “Vestibule,” by Chase Twichell

What etiquette holds us back
from more intimate speech,
especially now, at the end of the world?

What holds us back—I repeat this phrase to myself almost daily. It comes to mind when I sense that I’m hesitating—in my writing, in my relationships, in my engagements with my students. It comes to mind when I consider all that I know, whether about our climate, or the impact of our modern pace of life, or about my own irrevocable truths as a person trying to make sense of the world and my place within it. Can reading and writing poems help us speak of these truths and subtler forms of knowledge? Can these ancient human practices expand our understanding? I believe they can. Chase Twichell’s poem has been teaching me what that might mean for many years, and so I return to it, and continue to ask: Can’t we begin a conversation . . . then gradually move it inside?

Link to the complete poem:

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