It is possible to be struck by a
meteor or a single-engine plane while
reading in a chair at home. Pedestrians
are flattened by safes falling from
rooftops mostly within the panels of
the comics, but still, we know it is
possible, as well as the flash of
summer lightning, the thermos toppling
over, spilling out on the grass.
And we know the message can be
delivered from within. The heart, no
valentine, decides to quit after
lunch, the power shut off like a
switch, or a tiny dark ship is
unmoored into the flow of the body’s
rivers, the brain a monastery,
defenseless on the shore. This is
what I think about when I shovel
compost into a wheelbarrow, and when
I fill the long flower boxes, then
press into rows the limp roots of red
impatiens — the instant hand of Death
always ready to burst forth from the
sleeve of his voluminous cloak. Then
the soil is full of marvels, bits of
leaf like flakes off a fresco,
red-brown pine needles, a beetle quick
to burrow back under the loam. Then
the wheelbarrow is a wilder blue, the
clouds a brighter white, and all I
hear is the rasp of the steel edge
against a round stone, the small
plants singing with lifted faces, and
the click of the sundial as one hour
sweeps into the next.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Billy Collins's poem Picnic, Lightning


  1. Anonymous says:

    It should be noted that this poem refers to a passage in Nabokov’s Lolita.

  2. joodie says:

    My Poem- I think you will enjoy this very much
    The bitter winds, bitterly biting at my boots
    the summer sun sizzling my soft drink
    the spring sunlight, sighing in awe of the separation
    and the wonderful winter winds weighing their worries
    eat me mind, o seasons
    eat me whole

  3. Bobby G says:

    Well, since no one has commented on this poem before, Imight as well start it off. I think that the imagery is absolutely fantastic. Moreover, this captivating flow of thoughts, exhibits the speaker’s realization of his own mortality.

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