American Life in Poetry: Column 309

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

I love poems that celebrate families, and here’s a fine one by Joyce Sutphen of Minnesota, a poet who has written dozens of poems I’d like to publish in this column if there only were weeks enough for all of them.

The Aunts

I like it when they get together
and talk in voices that sound
like apple trees and grape vines,

and some of them wear hats
and go to Arizona in the winter,
and they all like to play cards.

They will always be the ones
who say “It is time to go now,”
even as we linger at the door,

or stand by the waiting cars, they
remember someone—an uncle we
never knew—and sigh, all

of them together, like wind
in the oak trees behind the farm
where they grew up—a place

I remember—especially
the hen house and the soft
clucking that filled the sunlit yard.


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 ©2010 by Joyce Sutphen from her most recent book of poetry, First Words, Red Dragonfly Press, 2010. Poem reprinted by permission of Joyce Sutphen 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.