American Life in Poetry
sponsors
The Poetry Foundation

Library of Congress

University of Nebraska
at Lincoln

Download PDF
Bookmark and Share
American Life in Poetry: Column 124

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Here is a lovely poem about survival by Patrick Phillips of New York. People sometimes ask me "What are poems for?" and "Matinee" is an example of the kind of writing that serves its readers, that shows us a way of carrying on.

Matinee

After the biopsy,   
after the bone scan,   
after the consult and the crying,   

for a few hours no one could find them,   
not even my sister,   
because it turns out   

they'd gone to the movies.   
Something tragic was playing,   
something epic,   

and so they went to the comedy   
with their popcorn   
and their cokes,   

the old wife whispering everything twice,   
the old husband   
cupping a palm to his ear,   

as the late sun lit up an orchard   
behind the strip mall,   
and they sat in the dark holding hands.

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 © 2006 by Patrick Phillips, whose latest book is "Chattahoochee," University of Arkansas Press, 2004. Reprinted from the "Greensboro Review," Fall 2006, No. 80, with permission of the author. 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.

POEM SEARCH


Home
Project Description
Copyrights and Permissions
Current Column
Column Archive
Kooser Bio
Email Sign-Up
Register here to receive American Life in Poetry via weekly email.

Register Today >>


American Life in Poetry © 2014 The Poetry Foundation    Contact: alp@poetryfoundation.org    Privacy Policy    RSS