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This poem is taken from PN Review 251, Volume 46 Number 3, January - February 2020.

Five Poems Sarah White
He Offers a Reason

‘Because it was he, because it was I.’
Montaigne, ‘On Friendship’

Lonely Montaigne, having had a perfect
confidant and lost him, decided to invent
the Essay as a way to touch his friend,
Etienne, again: He would wander from thought
to thought, as in their former conversations,
and simply let the Reader listen in.

As one such Reader, I say Merci, Michel,
for telling me, as well as any writer could,
a reason for your art. What
about my own? I won’t go into that

until I’ve thanked you for combing through the Greek
and Latin classics, teasing out their wisdom,
and carving it into the roof beams of your library.

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