American Life in Poetry: Column 157

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

From your school days you may remember A. E. Housman’s poem that begins, “Loveliest of trees, the cherry now/ Is hung with bloom along the bough.” Here’s a look at a blossoming cherry, done 120 years later, on site among the famous cherry trees of Washington, by D.C. poet Judith Harris.

In Your Absence

Not yet summer,   
but unseasonable heat   
pries open the cherry tree.   

It stands there stupefied,   
in its sham, pink frills,   
dense with early blooming.   

Then, as afternoon cools   
into more furtive winds,   
I look up to see   
a blizzard of petals   
rushing the sky.   

It is only April.   
I can’t stop my own life   
from hurrying by.   
The moon, already pacing.


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. Poem copyright ©2007 by Judith Harris, whose most recent collection of poems is The Bad Secret, Louisiana State University Press, 2006. Reprinted by permission of Judith Harris. 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.