What’s a Thing You Can Finish What’s a Thing You Can Fix

I woke with confidence woke with restlessness
woke with a sense that I must work ceaselessly
that I must not cease the working if I want breakfast
I must make it if I want a book I must write it if I want

a mountain I must get in the dirt with my tiny shovel

digging the hole it comes from. If my friend says not

to tell anyone about her surgery and yet she posts

about it on her many social media accounts I must
be spending too much time on social media
accounting for the things that do not need a counter.

The writers say they do not do birthday parties
or playdates the writers say they alienate
their friends there is nothing more important
than the doing there is nothing more to make
of the time than the time to have done the most.

Emily Pérez is the author of What Flies Want, winner of the Iowa Prize; House of Sugar, House of Stone; and two chapbooks. She coedited the anthology The Long Devotion: Poets Writing Motherhood. A CantoMundo Fellow and Ledbury Critic, she’s received support from Hedgebrook, Bread Loaf, The Community of Writers, and others. She teaches high school in Denver, where she lives with her family.