Enjoy Robert’s gorgeous poem of that first snow in October, the harbinger of what’s to come…. Taken from Ted Kooser’s American Life in Poetry.
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American Life in Poetry: Column 498
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
Here’s a lovely poem for this lovely month, by Robert Haight, who lives in Michigan.
Early October Snow
It will not stay.
But this morning we wake to pale muslin
stretched across the grass.
The pumpkins, still in the fields, are planets
shrouded by clouds.
The Weber wears a dunce cap
and sits in the corner by the garage
where asters wrap scarves
around their necks to warm their blooms.
The leaves, still soldered to their branches
by a frozen drop of dew, splash
apple and pear paint along the roadsides.
It seems we have glanced out a window
into the near future, mid-December, say,
the black and white photo of winter
carefully laid over the present autumn,
like a morning we pause at the mirror
inspecting the single strand of hair
that overnight has turned to snow.
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. Poem copyright ©2013 by Robert Haight from his most recent book of poems, Feeding Wild Birds, Mayapple Press, 2013. (Lines two and six are variations of lines by Herb Scott and John Woods.) Poem reprinted by permission of Robert Haight 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.
Soft bed of snow in a dark forest, two bodies breathe.
we feel the cold burden, the dead weight,
it presses for answers as our chests fight to rise, rise, rise …
gratefully, audibly. When it’s over, snow settles
on our eyelids with the lightest touch. We, in ancient silence,
This cold wind
stings eyes while
pinching cheeks red.
Cold wind like death,
a playful devil,
seems to whisper
“did you really think
you were the one to
But, what if we lived in California,
what if we moved south of here ….
i am the loneliest soul.
a shadow moving silent beneath
no one’s hands. Strong
like backs of trees in late November
losing all those leaves
to a hungry season, a cold
as scrappy and conniving as a
starving animal, i
understand these trees, we
in the dark belong to no one
and stand alone under a
moonscape of dreams blown to dust.
Now that I have a window
I age faster.
I am a family member who
is already dead.
Sun sets: I watch the drop
to dirt grow faster every day.
I imagine it is me. I am the sun,
scorching orange fingernails
scratching at a dusky sky
trying to remain relevant and
[What if, this time, there is no morning?]
Blushing hints of light. I am my great aunt reborn.
I am a promise that
the universe crackles at its tips
into yet another big bang.
Look at the man walking, cold breath rising.
Look at the trees bare to their necks.
It is winter…
but only for now.
you say as night settles
for the progress of the day.
as soon as you’re born
you die a little
every day, with every scraped knee
and every time
someone disappoints you
or you break another heart.
all the blood of daily pin pricks pile like so many dried leaves
tossed by a breezy blood orange moon with eyes like a wise old owl.
Finally, you say.
Wipe a finger
across a dusty bookshelf full of old photographs
to feel the only truth
known to owls, and moons.
fresh snow has a silence
like the last sigh before
every last cell goes dark
and the soul drifts on; like
how even a tiny gust can
send these mortal flurries
i like a cold wind
reminds my bones rattling
what it feels to live.
snow like petals blown
by that one giant whoo-sh –
scattered the dandelion
when we lived in fields,
made wishes instead
of analyzing frozen precip
in harsh city streetlights.
it’s cold, i’m tired, i’m giving you a poem that was posted back in the beginning and written before that…. enjoy, stay warm…
January (Outside My Parents’ House)