American Life in Poetry: Column 281

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Anton Chekhov, the master of the short story, was able to see whole worlds within the interactions of simple Russian peasants, and in this little poem by Leo Dangel, who grew up in rural South Dakota, something similar happens.

One September Afternoon

Home from town
the two of them sit
looking over what they have bought
spread out on the kitchen table
like gifts to themselves.
She holds a card of buttons
against the new dress material
and asks if they match.
The hay is dry enough to rake,
but he watches her
empty the grocery bag.
He reads the label
on a grape jelly glass
and tries on
the new straw hat again.


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. "One September Afternoon" ©1987 by Leo Dangel, whose most recent book of poetry is The Crow on the Golden Arches, Spoon River Poetry Press, 2004. Poem reprinted from Paddlefish, No. 3, 2009, by permission of Leo Dangel and the publisher. 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.