American Life in Poetry: Column 818

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

We have lots of poets who would enjoy being described as “a poet first, and a (fill in the job) second, as if for them writing poems is the most important thing in their lives. As I see it, Patricia Frolander is, instead, a widowed Wyoming ranch manager, a loving mother and grandmother first, and a poet, second. I like those priorities. Here’s a poem about the loss of her rancher husband of many years. It’s from her book Second Wind, from High Plains Press.

Dream Watch

I softly call your name as I slip into the stand of wheat,
fifty-five acres of gold.
Careful not to shell the seed, my aged hands
push ripened stems aside.

You must be here for you love the fullness of a crop.
Yards farther, I call again.
The hawk above must wonder
at the trails through the field.

Did you leave with the winnowing scythe,
the burning heat of August?
For some good reason, I cannot find you here,
amid the nightly dreams and tear-damp pillow.

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 ©2020 by Patricia Frolander, "Dream Watch," from Second Wind, (High Plains Press, 2020). Poem reprinted by permission of Patricia Frolander and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2020 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.