And each of my favorite poems has its own way of convincing me it knows me. Admittedly, “Ode on a Grecian Urn” and “The Idea of Order at Key West” go about it in very nearly the same way, but “The Glass Essay” approaches from a different angle, as does “still do I keep my look, my identity…,” as does “The Book of Ephraim,” as does “Hot White Andy.” Most of my favorite poems, however, construct at least part of the self—my self—with which they’re intimate. They succeed as poems because I don’t see the construction happening—while I’m reading the poem, a new part of my self is just suddenly there. And that new addition might be mostly temporary, but, while I’m reading the poem, it’s as surely a part of me as my arm is. Each poem makes a ghost limb.
That intimacy was what I was looking for when I chose “Swallow.” I chose it because I didn’t want to die alone.