The First Straw

By Billy Collins

Featured Art: A Caravan in the Desert by Narcisse Berchère

The camel felt nothing
as it stood outside the encampment,
its nose lifted in the thin desert air.

And no one in the caravan
even noticed the straw,
or if they did, no mention was made of it

that evening as they sat in a circle
inside a colorful tent
talking quietly under the numerous stars.


Billy Collins‘s latest collection is Whale Day (Random House, 2020). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Originally published in NOR 18: Fall 2015

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