American Life in Poetry: Column 147


Our earliest recollections are often imprinted in our memories because they were associated with some kind of stress. Here, in an untitled poem, the Nebraska State Poet, William Kloefkorn, brings back a difficult moment from many years before, and makes a late confession:

"I stand alone at the foot "

I stand alone at the foot
Of my father’s grave,
Trembling to tell:
The door to the granary is open,
And someone lost the bucket
To the well.

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. Poem copyright © 2004 by William Kloefkorn, whose most recent book of poetry is Still Life Moving, WSC Press, 2007, illustrated with pastel paintings by Carlos Frey. Reprinted from Alvin Turner As Farmer, Logan House, 2004, by permission of the author and publisher. 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.