American Life in Poetry: Column 408

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Here’s a lovely poem for the caregivers among us, by Terri Kirby Erickson, who lives in North Carolina.

Sponge Bath

Draped in towels,
my grandmother sits in a hard-backed
chair, a white bowl

of soapy water on the floor.
She lifts her frail arm, then rests it,

gratefully, in her daughter’s palm.
Gliding a wet

washcloth, my mother’s hand
becomes a cloud, and every bruise, a rain-
drenched flower.


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 ©2011 by Terri Kirby Erickson from her most recent book of poems, In the Palms of Angels, Press 53, 2011. Poem reprinted by permission of Terri Kirby Erickson and the 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.