Clear Writing

To Burn Through Where You Are Not Yet 
By Sophie Cabot Black '80

Those who take on risk are not those
Who bear it. The sign said to profit

As they do, trade around the one
Particular. Let them credit what you hunt,

Let future perform. Results are for your
Children anyway; returns can be long

To notice, and when wrong, will right
Unless the drawdown is steep, or of your own

Doing. If only to have known then the now:
The thesis did not revert, never worked;

You did not move
Except to the already—

And as the prodigy breaks from the pack,
Disrupts into the new for just one more

Click above the dial, the deal
Downriver is how you will get paid,

Later, further. Out beyond
Where you just see. Trust the flow

Is what he said, sort out the secular
As each day reconciles you

Into a morning of leaving. Or at least going;
Coming back at dark to take off your shoes

And ease into that chair. With that glass. Filled
Again. Not yet paid for. All resting

On an infinitesimal wire you have never seen.
Their wire. Their there. You here. Not there.

This poem was previously published in The New Yorker, December 2, 2019 edition. Sophie Cabot Black visited campus on February 27 and shared her poetry at a reading in Apple Tree, part of the Marlboro College Alumni Speaker Series. She has written three collections of poetry, most recently The Exchange. You can hear Sophie read “To Burn Through Where You Are Not Yet.”

The above photo was taken at the November farewell ceremony for the majestic elm that stood to the right of the dining hall for all of Marlboro’s years. The tree was removed in January, and much of the lumber will be used by art students and alumni craftspeople to build on their Marlboro memories.