Reason for Being

Billy Collins

It was a winter paperweight of a day,
snow suspended in the frigid air,
as I carried from the window to the desk
only a small notion swinging from its perch

and the grim determination to bring into existence
a thing that never existed before,
even if it was nothing more than this,
a ramble through a few stanzas,

barely a hair on the great dog of literature,
barely a hair on the beguiling hedgehog
that is Andrew Marvell’s “The Garden.”

I only wanted to be handed that pellet
of satisfaction that comes 
with making the slightest thing—
a finger-painting in ink,
a cheap statuette on the crowded shelf of the world.

Though later, in the dwindling light
with snow thickening in the windows,
I wished I had been the creator
of something more consequential—

maybe a birdhouse with a hole and a peg,
or a doorknob that glows in the dark,

or, to think big for a moment,
now that the stuff was sticking to the panes,
maybe the actual marigold,
or (pardon my arrogance) the very snail itself.