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A weekly poem, read by the author.
July 31 1996 3:30 AM


I am born is passive,

I am dying's active.

Speaking from inside of speaking, these two,

being deeply

incommensurate, may tell us more

of telling (fore- and re-)


than ever of a life, and life's

two ends. But still

one harbors a suspicion (sneaking)

language has a longer memory

than anyone, so anyone had better

reconceive the all-

essential pair: to die's ally

becomes to bear. And as

for being born (inside unwilled)

its analog's not

dying ("I came out"):

it's being killed.

Heather McHugh's most recent collection of poetry, Hinge & Sign: Poems, 1968-1993, was nominated for a National Book Award.