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Picnic, Lightning

Billy Collins

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Picnic, lightning
Added by: Kristy
..."instant hand of Death
always ready to burst forth from the sleeve of his voluminous cloak..." This is what makes his writing show up in your head in riotous color, if you ask me. After reading this poem, I frequently find myself saying to myself, "picnic, lightning," when the pang of my own immortality hits me. I mean, that's it, right? That's what he's talking about. Blip, and it's over. Not that that has to be depressing, but humbling, that brief expression of our own demise. And here's the best part... contemplating this brevity, he notices more, feels more, sees more. Remember this, I say to myself: "Picnic, lightning."
Vintage Collins
Added by: Robert
The title (and, indeed, inspiration) for this wonderful poem comes from one of Vladimir Nabokov's classic parenthetical distillations, in this case from page 1 of 'Lolita':

"My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three, ..."

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