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American Life in Poetry: Column 480

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

I like the looks of trellises and arbors and those miniature barns that keep your bushel baskets of tools dry. Here’s a poem by Frank Osen, who lives in Pasadena, about a garden shelter that’s returning to the earth.

The Lath House

Wood strips, cross-purposed into lattice, made
this nursery of interstices—a place
that softened, then admitted, sun with shade,
baffled the wind and rain, broke open space.
It’s now more skeletal, a ghostly room
the garden seemed to grow, in disrepair,
long empty and well past its final bloom.

Less lumbered, though, it cultivates the air
by shedding cedar slats for open sky.
As if, designed to never seem quite finished,
it had a choice to seal and stultify
or take its weather straight and undiminished,

grow larger but be less precisely here,
break with its elements, and disappear.

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 Frank Osen, from his most recent book of poems, Virtue, Big as Sin, Able Muse Press, 2013. Poem reprinted by permission of Frank Osen 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.

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