American Life in Poetry: Column 541

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Any new book from Robert Morgan, be it poetry or prose, is a delightful event, and Dark Energy, recently published by Penguin, has lots of wonderful poems. Here’s a portrait that I especially like. Morgan lives in New York.

Heaven's Gate

In her nineties and afraid
of weather and of falling if
she wandered far outside her door,
my mother took to strolling in
the house. Around and round she’d go,
stalking into corners, backtrack,
then turn and speed down hallway, stop
almost at doorways, skirt a table,
march up to the kitchen sink and
wheel to left, then swing into
the bathroom, almost stumble on
a carpet there. She must have walked
a hundred miles or more among
her furniture and family pics,
mementos of her late husband.
Exercising heart and limb,
outwalking stroke, attack, she strode,
not restless like a lion in zoo,
but with a purpose and a gait,
and kept her eyes on heaven’s gate.


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. “Heaven’s Gate,” from DARK ENERGY by Robert Morgan, copyright ©2015 by Robert Morgan. Used by permission of Viking Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. 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.