Apple Blossoms by Susan Kelly-DeWitt (American Life in Poetry)

Loved this poem from Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry column. It’s been a hard winter – let poetry warm your soul 🙂

American Life in Poetry: Column 462


This year’s brutal winter surely calls for a poem such as today’s selection, a peek at the inner workings of spring. Susan Kelly-DeWitt lives and teaches in Sacramento.

Apple Blossoms

One evening in winter
when nothing has been enough,
when the days are too short,

the nights too long
and cheerless, the secret
and docile buds of the apple

blossoms begin their quick
ascent to light. Night
after interminable night

the sugars pucker and swell
into green slips, green
silks. And just as you find

yourself at the end
of winter’s long, cold
rope, the blossoms open

like pink thimbles
and that black dollop
of shine called

bumblebee stumbles in.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2001 by Susan Kelly-DeWitt, whose most recent book of poems is The Fortunate Islands, Marick Press, 2008. Poem reprinted from To a Small Moth, Poet’s Corner Press, 2001, by permission of Susan Kelly-DeWitt 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.

creation is not a quiet stuttering dance

I never thought of you.

I never imagined it. And I always thought you could create a life
Like you construct yourself,
In the dark, with your hands in the air of a dream.

But no. When it snows and is silent, bones are ancient with
truth like skies so cold all of us reaching our hands up in the dark
shudder in realization:
creation is not a quiet stuttering dance.
It is our stars bent on self-destruction, it is anything but a dream.

Waiting for Alice

Waiting. Winter concise in tongue says,
“It will never happen. It can’t.”
Black birds chatty squeal
“She’s forgotten, she’s forgotten you” like
playground children in keep-away.
Wood floorboards beneath my spine reason
“Be content in memory, it is enough.”

I listen, and I wait.
Only the snowy owl, rare in visits, winks
“One day, one day. You’ll see.”

Years end like a funeral march, beautiful

It seems, under such disappearing dusk,
years end like a funeral march, beautiful.
Seconds with frozen breath ascend to heaven.
Small lights shimmer then go quietly cold
beneath the pulse of evergreen fingers (undeterred).
Snow swirls patiently to a final resting place
with us who find, with each step, we sink lower,
lower. Soon our family will cover our eyes with
petals and coins. Another year will end.


Midnight Streets

We were born to roam midnight streets
to leave sticky notes of jazz on exuberant thighs
stopped beneath streetlights of dancing rays
gnawing here and there, tipping them back, tossing aside.

We die each hour of impending day but
the streets become a blues pulse, thumping. Again,
hold on to night’s desperation and grind slow
into cobblestones content with the hour still late, late, late.