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Doing Without

      's an interesting
custom, involving such in-
      visible items as the food
that's not on the table, the clothes
      that are not on the back
the radio whose music
      is silence. Doing without
is a great protector of reputations
      since all places one cannot go
are fabulous, and only the rare and
      enlightened plowman in his field
or on his mountain does not overrate
      what he does not or cannot have.
Saluting through their windows
      of cathedral glass those restaurants
we must not enter (unless like
      burglars we become subject to
arrest) we greet with our twinkling
      eyes the faces of others who do
without, the lady with the
      fishing pole, and the man who looks
amused to have discovered on a walk
      another piece of firewood.

—David Ray

from Gathering Firewood, 1974
Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, CT

Copyright 1974 by David Ray.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press from The Summer Anniversaries. Copyright 1974 by David Ray. For further permissions information, contact Wesleyan University Press,

Poetry 180

About the Poet

David Ray is the author of 22 poetry collections, including Hemingway: A Desperate Life (Whirlybird Press, 2011).

Learn more about David Ray.