American Life in Poetry: Column 542

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Several years ago I published a children’s book about a bag in the wind, so it’s no wonder I love this poem by April Lindner, who lives in Pennsylvania. Once you start noticing these wind-blown bags, you see them everywhere. Her most recent book is This Bed Our Bodies Shaped (Able Muse Press, 2012).

Carried Away

One rainy night we sat in traffic
and, overtired in back, you saw
a wind-whipped grocery bag afloat
beyond the clutch of jagged branches,
swept by gusts and whirled in eddies.
A sudden downdraft swooped it earthward,
where it danced till with a whoosh
a current luffed it past the power lines.
Disowned by gravity, small ghost
not yet snagged by twiggy fingers,
it couldn’t reach the earth. Thin-skinned,
it pulsed, translucent jellyfish.
You wept and pled to be let out
into the dark and slanted rain,
somehow to save that desolate thing.
The light turned green and still you begged,
Go back, go back, on its behalf,
caught and held, bossed and tossed
by a will much greater than its own.


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 April Lindner, “Carried Away,” from The Hudson Review, (Vol. LXIII, no. 1, Spring 2010). Poem reprinted by permission of April Lindner 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.