There is hardly a thing
(At least of a certain kind)
A basket won't contain.
Apples or jewels
Falling into it,
Singly or together.
Only what is bigger
Than the space in the basket
Could make trouble.
Then, again, there are live things,
Which, even though in the basket,
Will not stay there.
Then, there is water:
This will not stay in the basket,
For it flows.
This is not in accord with the basket.
Yet, neat little duodecimos
Will stay in the basket;
Figurines will stay in the basket,
At least sidewise.
So will ribbons,
And visiting cards,
And old manuscripts,
And little wooden balls painted red,
Though they roll.
Rolling is not as bad as flowing
For the basket.
When a basket is got together,
It's a basket—
Not until then.
It might just as well not be got together—almost,
When water is considered.
How unserviceable baskets are sometimes!
But what thing isn't?
Oceans are, people are, moons are, numbers are—
All, all unserviceable at times.
So, we can praise baskets even so,
Even while we think of water;
Or fire, or madly, insistently rolling, or jumping, or clawing things.
From Hot Afternoons Have Been in Montana: Poems (Definition Press)
© 1957 by Eli Siegel