American Life in Poetry: Column 765

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Minnesota has many fine writers, gathered together by a deep and trusting affection for one another. Freya Manfred has been an important part of that community for her entire life, having been brought up at the side of her father, Frederick Manfred, a master novelist of the American West. Here's a poem from Freya's new book from Red Dragonfly Press, Loon In Late November Water.

Old Friends

Old friends are a steady spring rain,
or late summer sunshine edging into fall,
or frosted leaves along a snowy path—
a voice for all seasons saying, I know you.
The older I grow, the more I fear I'll lose my old friends,
as if too many years have scrolled by
since the day we sprang forth, seeking each other.
 
Old friend, I knew you before we met.
I saw you at the window of my soul—
I heard you in the steady millstone of my heart
grinding grain for our daily bread.
You are sedimentary, rock-solid cousin earth,
where I stand firmly, astonished by your grace and truth.
And gratitude comes to me and says:
 
"Tell me anything and I will listen.
Ask me anything, and I will answer 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 ©2018 by Freya Manfred, "Old Friends," from Loon In Late November Water, (Red Dragonfly Press, 2018). Poem reprinted by permission of Freya Manfred and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2019 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.