American Life in Poetry
The Poetry Foundation

Library of Congress

University of Nebraska
at Lincoln

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American Life in Poetry: Column 550


Here is a poem by David Ray, of Arizona, that gets to the subject of how a person moves ahead following the death of a loved one. For a time, the simplest activity can feel both strange and new. His most recent book of poetry is When, from Howling Dog Press, 2007.


She took such good care of him
that he seldom lifted a finger.
So only now does he stand

by the sink and peel
his first potato, with the paring knife
she left as legacy.   The potato,

he notes, fits the human hand,
was made to do so, one
of the miracles.   She knew all along.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2006 by David Ray, “Widower,” from Music of Time: Selected and New Poems, (The Backwaters Press, 2006). Poem reprinted by permission of David Ray and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2015 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.


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