American Life in Poetry: Column 355

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Here’s an experience that I’d guess most of the men who read this column have had, getting into a rental tuxedo. Bill Trowbridge, a poet from Missouri, does a fine job of picturing that particular initiation rite.

Rental Tux

It chafed like some new skin we’d grown,
or feathers, the cummerbund and starched collar
pinching us to show how real this transformation
into princes was, how powerful we’d grown
by getting drivers’ licenses, how tall and total
our new perspective, above that rusty keyhole
parents squinted through. We’d found the key:
that nothing really counts except a romance
bright as Technicolor, wide as Cinerama,
and this could be the night. No lie.


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 ©2006 by William Trowbridge, from his most recent book of poems, Ship of Fool, Red Hen Press, 2011. 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.