American Life in Poetry: Column 574

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

When I was a boy, because of the song, I thought there really was an Easter parade, but the Easters came and went without one. But here's a glimpse of just a little piece of a parade by Kim Dower, who lives in Los Angeles. Her forthcoming book is Last Train to the Missing Planet, Red Hen Press, 2016. 

I Wore This Dress Today for You, Mom,

breezy, floral, dancing with color
soft, silky, flows as I walk
Easter Sunday and you always liked

to get dressed, go for brunch, "maybe
there's a good movie playing somewhere?"
Wrong religion, we were not church-goers,

but New Yorkers who understood the value
of a parade down 5th Avenue, bonnets
in lavender, powder blues, pinks, hues

of spring, the hope it would bring.
We had no religion but we did have
noodle kugel, grandparents, dads

who could fix fans, reach the china
on the top shelf, carve the turkey.
That time has passed. You were the last

to go, mom, and I still feel bad I never
got dressed up for you like you wanted me to.
I had things, things to do. But today in L.A.—

hot the way you liked it—those little birds
you loved to see flitting from tree to tree—
just saw one, a twig in its mouth, preparing

a bed for its baby—might still be an egg,
I wish you were here. I've got a closet filled
with dresses I need to show you.


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 ©2015 by Kim Dower, I Wore This Dress Today for You, Mom,” from Rattle, (No. 48, Summer, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of Kim Dower 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.