American Life in Poetry: Column 555

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

When we’re feeling sorry for ourselves it can help to make a list of things for which we’re grateful. Here is a fine poem of gratitude by Barbara Crooker, who lives in Pennsylvania, and its images make up just such a list. This is from her book Small Rain from Purple Flag Press.

Sustenance

The sky hangs up its starry pictures: a swan,
a crab, a horse. And even though you’re
three hundred miles away, I know you see
them, too. Right now, my side
of the bed is empty, a clear blue lake
of flannel. The distance yawns and stretches.
It’s hard to remember we swim in an ocean
of great love, so easy to fall into bickering
like little birds at the feeder fighting over proso
and millet, unaware of how large the bag of grain is,
a river of golden seeds, that the harvest was plentiful,
the corn is in the barn, and whenever we’re hungry,
a dipperful of just what we need will be spilled . . .


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 ©2014 by Barbara Crooker, “Sustenance,” from Small Rain, (Purple Flag Press, 2014). Poem reprinted by permission of Barbara Crooker 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.