American Life in Poetry: Column 001

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

We all know that the manner in which people behave toward one another can tell us a lot about their private lives. In this amusing poem by David Allan Evans, Poet Laureate of South Dakota, we learn something about a marriage by being shown a couple as they take on an ordinary household task.

Neighbors

They live alone
together,
   
she with her wide hind
and bird face,
he with his hung belly
and crewcut.
   
They never talk
but keep busy.
   
Today they are
washing windows
(each window together)
she on the inside,
he on the outside.
He squirts Windex
at her face,
she squirts Windex
at his face.
   
Now they are waving
to each other
with rags,
   
not smiling.


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. 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. Reprinted from Train Windows, Ohio University Press, 1976, by permission of the author, whose most recent book is The Bull Rider's Advice: New and Selected Poems. Introduction copyright © 2018 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.