A new poem by former poet laureate Billy Collins

The idea was to draw a pineapple
on a table, but I began with the telephone poles
and the wires sagging between them in the background,

for I had made the mistake of placing
the pineapple on a picnic table outdoors
instead of a cloth-covered table by a window,

and that is also why I was drawn
to the low mountains in the distance
and the higher ones beyond them.

What still life would be complete
without a sun with shine-lines in the sky?
I asked, but no one answered.

And so I continued with the magnificent clouds,
shaded on their undersides,
and even a few isolated seagulls in flight

here and there in the expanding world
of my sketchpad, my pencil
running wild into the nonexistent blue.

Poor pineapple, I realize now,
overlooked symbol of hospitality,
universal fruit of welcome by the door,

lost now in the scope of the bigger world.
Forgive my adolescent pencil
for bypassing the perfect fact of you

in its eagerness to explore the world
and for not seeing the world that you are—
the plated armadillo of your surface    

and your pale succulent interior
waiting on a rough table in a hut
for the swift, unstoppable downswing of the blade.

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