American Life in Poetry: Column 059


Contrary to the glamorized accounts we often read about the lives of single women, Amy Fleury, a native of Kansas, presents us with a realistic, affirmative picture. Her poem playfully presents her life as serendipitous, yet she doesn’t shy away from acknowledging loneliness.

At Twenty-Eight

It seems I get by on more luck than sense,
not the kind brought on by knuckle to wood,
breath on dice, or pennies found in the mud.
I shimmy and slip by on pure fool chance.
At turns charmed and cursed, a girl knows romance
as coffee, red wine, and books; solitude
she counts as daylight virtue and muted
evenings, the inventory of absence.
But this is no sorry spinster story,
just the way days string together a life.
Sometimes I eat soup right out of the pan.
Sometimes I don’t care if I will marry.
I dance in my kitchen on Friday nights,
singing like only a lucky girl can.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. 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. “At Twenty-Eight” by Amy Fleury is reprinted from "Beautiful Trouble," Southern Illinois University Press, 2004, by permission of the author. The poem was originally published in Southern Poetry Review, Volume 41:2, Fall/Winter 2002. Introduction copyright © 2016 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.