I. What’s the Difference—
What’s the difference between jelly and jam,
between club soda and seltzer, between
a modem and a router? What’s the difference
between llamas and alpacas, mildew and mold,
salamanders and newts? What’s the difference
between a passport and visa, brown eggs
and white, stars and planets, me and you?
II. How Long—
How long is the Great Wall of China?
How long is pink eye contagious, is a dog
in heat? How long is a nap? How long
can you get audited, grow a beard?
How long is an AA meeting? How long
does depression last? How long is
a marathon, a generation, a lightyear?
III. How Far—
How far can you drive on a spare,
walk in a day, cast a fly rod? How far
can you hear a train’s whistle, a lion’s roar?
How far can you shoot a gun, hear a shot?
How far can you move after divorce? How far
can you see while crying? How far can you
fall? How far can you fall without dying?
IV. How Many— How many stripes on a zebra?
How many cups in a quart, feet in
a mile, minutes in a day? How many
years to paint the Sistine Chapel?
How many lives lost in Iraq, children
poisoned in Flint? How many,
how many look the other way?
Erin Murphy’s eighth book, Human Resources, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Normal School,Diode,Southern Poetry Review, The Georgia Review, Women’s Studies Quarterly, and elsewhere.She is poetry editor of The Summerset Review and Professor of English at Penn State Altoona. Website: www.erin-murphy.com. Twitter: @poet_notes