The Millions

In Praise of Poems That End with Questions

To end a poem with a question is to offer an invitation. Here, the poet says, now it’s your turn. Rhetorical or direct, a question requests our participation. We sit up, re-read, and become a part of the poem.

A question, then, closes a poem with an opening. “Breathing” by ends with two questions. Her poem starts with the line: “When I refuse to see the chair has presence / I trip over it repeatedly.” Yet when she smells “the oil of hands on the wooden arms of the chair” and sees the “careful fittings of the joints,” she knows the chair has place and space. She will push forward through her life, past

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