American Life in Poetry: Column 428

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Lots of us find ourselves under the interested fingers of dermatologists, who prosper on the fun we once had out in the sun. Here George Bilgere of Ohio, one of our most amusing American poets, sits back in his skin doctor’s chair and reminisces about a party that took place years ago.

Basal Cell

The sun is still burning in my skin
even though it set half-an-hour ago,
and Cindy and Bob and Bev and John
are pulling on their sweatshirts
and gathering around the fire pit.

John hands me a cold one
and now Bev comes into my arms
and I can feel the sun’s heat,
and taste the Pacific on her cheek.

I am not in Vietnam,
nor is John or Bob, because
our deferments came through,
and we get to remain boys
for at least another summer
like this one in Santa Cruz,
surfing the afternoons in a sweet
blue dream I’m remembering now,

as the nurse puts my cheek to sleep,
and the doctor begins to burn
those summers away.


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 ©2012 by George Bilgere, whose most recent book of poems is The White Museum, Autumn House Press, 2010. Poem reprinted by permission of George Bilgere. 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.