I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb in claiming that poetry has a unique ability to startle us into new realizations, new ways of seeing. I would guess that it does this by activating an intuitive sort of knowledge in the reader. By not filling in all of the gaps, poetry trains the reader of poetry to do so–or at least attempt to do so. Thus, the reader discovers what has always been known but perhaps never recognized or articulated. The last poem that changed me in this way would probably have to be Robert Hass’s “A Story About the Body.” The straightforward nature of the prose and the choice of the prose poem format bolster the notion of embodiment. The infatuation develops much as we would expect, and the story of vulnerability offered and rejected is familiar to each of us, although the stakes of the particular vulnerability in this poem seem unique. What throws me is not the painter’s revelation or the composer’s response, but rather the ineffable image of the bowl filled with bees and petals. As with the dialogue between these two would-be lovers, I want to unpack this final image, to make it make sense in its context (the layers of bees and petals corresponding to mortality and desire? Fierceness and relinquishment? ), but in the end, the bowl and its contents resist the straightforward reading of an objective correlative. It is an image that moves us, but not necessarily—or primarily—on aesthetic terms. Most importantly for me, the irreducible power of that image confounds the patent readability of the preceding narrative. I want to read deeply and understand; this poem’s resistance to being drawn out forces me to make peace with uncertainty. That’s how it changed me. What’s the last poem that changed you? Take a look at this article in The Rumpus for more ideas, and I invite you to post your own responses below.