Lemon in my hand has such soft waxen rind,
the smell is citrus, light, acidic, clean.
I am now 8 years old in a world of sand, sucking lemon juice
through a peppermint stick, a grandparent’s treat.
Then, I am Positano, a lemon of such giant size, and my family
together watches rain wash candied terra cotta roofs clean.
Once more, I’m at lunch in a blue room with my great aunt
squeezing a distracted, thin slice into a diet coke.
Always, a small bit of juice finds a crack in the skin and stings.
Tomorrow, we’ll roll the pulp in sugar and have a sweet lick.
Boxes, open at the top, spring up like a new development
of cookie cutter homes waiting to be bought.
You discover pieces of Ikea chairs never assembled
languishing in a closet you opened twice in four years
and M&M earrings (a gift?) never removed from their backing.
There is dust, and dirt, ticket stubs and cat toys shoved far
beneath the couch. You find yourself sitting on the hard floor for hours
listening to music and thumbing through photo albums. Your face was fuller then.
Beneath you the people at the bar pound their fists as the Orioles
hit a run. Across the street, cars wait for steamed crabs at Chris’ Seafood.
Heat rises. Night falls. Tomorrow, this is nothing but a dream.
You, girl, are preoccupied
with the way heat from an afternoon sidewalk
steams your bare thighs. You let
thunder bang around in the empty
cavity of your day-dreamin mind.
Forget what they sold you.
Love is not a hot dress, a polished spoon,
a bleak expectation,
It is a moment you’ll never own;
a long-awaited rain slipping into dirt,
or how you can silently lean
into a Miles Davis’ horn
sounding a single humid and final note.
i want to be like so many
rows of seeds planted
over hard long years, who
now in the light of new sun
carefully test a path.
i want to be groomed to grow
tall, like a tomato plant up a rod.
but i am a poet, a seeker.
a dandelion unplanted, unplanned,
so ruinous to fields
but joyous to winds.
Man in boat, alone with book,
Sighs mightily. Looks skyward.
Mallards, in pairs, sail close,
Circling for bread, expectant.
Clouds above, seek resolve, then
Resoundingly, give their load a rest.
Humble water leaps, so tickled, and
Time, meanwhile, whispers advice to
Cattails: souls who look, circle, seek
Should rest, content with the rustling.
i am rain
drops. how so definitively
i collapse into a puddle
only to rebound skyward. have you ever
seen rain in this incredible dance?
i fall, i rise, fall again.
my skin expands in ever increasing waves
before settling into a universe
quietly dying in the exact same way.
Kiss my hip bones if
you want to know me.
Stubborn mouth, a lack
of venture grounds you.
Hip bones are grave lovers.
If you kiss mine, you’ll
taste certain ash and stars
promised again, so soon.
I love the immediacy of this poem. The raw feel of it~ Enjoy!
American Life in Poetry: Column 474
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
Let’s celebrate the first warm days of spring with a poem for mushroom hunters, this one by Amy Fleury, who lives in Louisiana.
Up from wood rot,
wrinkling up from duff
and homely damps,
spore-born and cauled
like a meager seer,
it pushes aside earth
to make a small place
from decay. Bashful,
it brings honeycombed
news from below
of the coming plenty
and everything rising.
American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Copyright © 2013 by Amy Fleury from her most recent book of poems, Sympathetic Magic, Southern Illinois University Press, 2013. Poem reprinted by permission of Amy Fleury and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2014 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.
American Life in Poetry provides newspapers and online publications with a free weekly column featuring contemporary American poems. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry: American Life in Poetry seeks to create a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. There are no costs for reprinting the columns; we do require that you register your publication here and that the text of the column be reproduced without alteration.
some people say
“the die is cast”
when they should say “I have taken my turn,
I have made my bed,
and must now lie down to rest
with all these decisions.”
each minute my hair greys, I can either
believe the earth spins in dark space alone or
expel hot air into a spring blue sky with purpose.