(The Larger Structure) is the Poem

by John Riley

for Sophia

Tonight I helped my daughter write a paper
on a poem by Thomas Moore (1779-1852)
that the professor said is overly familiar
but would be fine for their purposes because

it well illustrates the same

kind of richness of meaning

that we find in individual words.

The topic: words as microcosms of the macrocosm.

By which he means

(the larger structure) is the poem.

The instructions continued:

“with reference to the Compass of Discourse

can we say that the work

—makes a statement

—generates meaningful images

—performs an action with grace and charm

—employs forms that enrich its meaning.”

My daughter insists she does not like poetry and thinks

I talked her into taking the class

because the professor is an old friend of mine

from the twelve-step group that saved our lives

(which means we've both had charms that,

when they lost their blush,

were like fairy-gifts fading away.)

Maybe someday I'll tell her

I'm happy I suggested English 330

because of the way her face wrinkled into a smile

when I read aloud to her

the heart that has truly loved never forgets.