American Life in Poetry: Column 087

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

The first poem we ran in this column was by David Allan Evans of South Dakota, about a couple washing windows together. You can find that poem and all the others on our website, www.americanlifeinpoetry.org. Here Tania Rochelle of Georgia presents us with another couple, this time raking leaves. I especially like the image of the pair “bent like parentheses/ around their brittle little lawn.”

Raking

Anna Bell and Lane, eighty,
make small leaf piles in the heat,
each pile a great joint effort,
like fifty years of marriage,
sharing chores a rusty dance.
In my own yard, the stacks
are big as children, who scatter them,
dodge and limbo the poke
of my rake. We’re lucky,
young and straight-boned.
And I feel sorry for the couple,
bent like parentheses
around their brittle little lawn.
I like feeling sorry for them,
the tenderness of it, but only
for a moment: John glides in
like a paper airplane, takes
the children for the weekend,
and I remember,
they’re the lucky ones—
shriveled Anna Bell, loving
her crooked Lane.


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 Karaoke Funeral, Snake Nation Press, 2003, by permission of the author. Copyright © 2003 by Tania Rochelle. 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.