I keep my answers small and keep them near;
Big questions bruised my mind but still I let
Small answers be a bulwark to my fear.
The huge abstractions I keep from the light;
Small things I handled and caressed and loved.
I let the stars assume the whole of night.
But the big answers clamoured to be moved
Into my life. Their great audacity
Shouted to be acknowledged and believed.
Even when all small answers build up to
Protection of my spirit, I still hear
Big answers striving for their overthrow
And all the great conclusions coming near.
I love this poem, written primarily in tercets. I, too, keep my questions and my answers small and soft. Unlike the voice in Elizabeth Jennings’s poem, however, I have not allowed the big answers to enter my home. I know that they are out there; I prefer to wonder about the inner workings of the feline mind. I would rather read a student paper on Leonard Bast’s umbrella than an examination of poverty, the abyss, and the Teutonic influence on literature.
I don’t know what form “Answers” is written in; it does seem like a formal poem and it might be something like a Sicilian tercet or a variation.