Excerpt from A Letter from the World of Emptiness by Sigman Byrd


The following poem appears in our Fall 2013 print issue 23. The full issue is available for download in digital format here. It is also available in Kindle format here.

Not that you didn’t recognize the dragonfly
landing on the zipper of your backpack

or register the bulbous, black compound eyes
and segmented abdomen
      as they dipped and bobbed.

You were expert at observing appearances,
the iridescent blue-green wings cantilevered,
fluttering in the air, ready to hover
      or bolt in ten directions,
and then the water at your feet
sheering into the tall river grasses.

But what you saw was what you added:
tint and shape, context and purpose,
      the old narrative tick triggering
into motion the unending deluge
             of desire.

Hear me out. You were drained

by looking, swiftly circulating through dust
off cliff face and trailhead,

Maybe you never truly learned to sit

for one moment in summer’s phototropic glimmer,
      or hear the sizzling grains
of sunlight crawl through the aspens.

Maybe you are the one I dreamed
would come some day,
      the one smitten with the apocrypha
and rigmarole of measurable things,
      the one almost ready
for emptiness.

Sigman ByrdSIGMAN BYRD’S first book of poems, Under the Wanderer’s Star, was published in 2006 by Marsh Hawk Press, and a chapbook, Who We Were, was published in 2010 by Finishing Line Press.

Byrd has published numerous poems in magazines, including Alaska Quarterly Review, Antioch Review, American Literary Review, American Poetry Review, Crazyhorse, Georgia Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, Plume, Prairie Schooner, Poetry, Poetry Daily, Southern Review, Southwest Review, Verse Daily, and many others. He has won a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, Dobie-Paisano Fellowship from the Texas Institute of Letters and the University of Texas, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and received a special mention for the Pushcart Prize for poetry published by a small press in 2012.

Byrd is currently and Instructor at University of Colorado at Boulder.

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