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When someone asks
what there is to do,
light the candle
in their hand.
Rumi
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Poems on Passing
EXERCISE



First forget what time it is
for an hour
do it regularly every day

then forget what day of the week it is
do this regularly for a week
then forget what country you are in
and practice doing it in company
for a week
then do them together
for a week
with as few breaks as possible

follow these by forgetting how to add
or to subtract
it makes no difference
you can change them around
after a week
both will help you later
to forget how to count

forget how to count
starting with your own age
starting with how to count backward
starting with even numbers
starting with Roman numerals
starting with fractions of Roman numerals
starting with the old calendar
going on to the old alphabet
going on to the alphabet
until everything is continuous again

go on to forgetting elements
starting with water
proceeding to earth
rising in fire

forget fire


W.S. Merwin
from Migration: New and Selected Poems. Copper Canyon Press.
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Poems on Passings & Partings
After Reading T'ao Ch'ing
The Argument
Aubade
For My (Grand) Daughter
Philosophy
The Pond at Dusk
Preparations for a Parting
To Luck
What's in My Journal
Kindness
Three Songs at the End
Meadowbrook Nursing Home
Let Evening Come
Exercise
No Children, No Pets
Doctors
Choice of Diseases
When Death Comes
Becoming
Remember When
The Blue Blanket
Boat on the River
Candles
Sun and Moon
Remember When [another]
Forgiveness
In November
Thinking about the Past
Taking Down the Tree