You ask can you help them understand what poetry is and why it matters and so I pull out my books and sit thinking with them about macro lenses and the curve of a roof falling down and the wool of his wide brimmed winter hat and the hiss of rocks and the fire behind my retinas when he sang out verses over the wine and I think of the people who have gone the poet's voice coming out of the loudspeaker the day of his memorial service and the box-builder who made world after world in box after box and the boy with the flaming hair who loved writing verses about the girl who left him and the girl who stood up unannounced and chanted stanzas from memory and the woman who declaimed Chaucer to cows and I think

of the spring bleeding into these branches at the side of my road

and I think I will tell them that poetry is nothing less than the mattering of this life's merest matter.