American Life in Poetry: Column 096

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Grief can endure a long, long time. A deep loss is very reluctant to let us set it aside, to push it into a corner of memory. Here the Arkansas poet, Andrea Hollander Budy, gives us a look at one family’s adjustment to a death.

For Weeks After the Funeral

The house felt like the opera,
the audience in their seats, hushed, ready,
but the cast not yet arrived.

And if I said anything
to try to appease the anxious air, my words
would hang alone like the single chandelier

waiting to dim the auditorium, but still
too huge, too prominent, too bright, its light
announcing only itself, bringing more

emptiness into the emptiness.


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. Copyright © 2006 by Andrea Hollander Budy. First published in Five Points and included in her book, Woman in the Painting. Reprinted by permission of the author and Autumn House Press. Introduction copyright © 2017 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.