American Life in Poetry: Column 329


I’ve gotten to the age at which I spend a lot of time remembering, and it’s the fragments that seem to affect me the most, fleeting glimpses into the past that leave me still reaching for something I can’t quite grasp. Here Roy Scheele, a fine Nebraska poet, perfectly captures one of those passing memories.

Produce Wagon

The heat shimmer along our street
one midsummer midafternoon,
and wading up through it a horse’s hooves,
and each shoe raising a tongueless bell
that tolled in the neighborhood,
till the driver drew in the reins
and the horse hung its head and stood.

And something in a basket thin
as shavings (blackberries? or a ghost
of the memory of having tasted them?)
passing into my hands as mother paid,
and the man got up again,
slapping the loop from the reins,
and was off on his trundling wagon.

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 ©2010 by Roy Scheele from his most recent book of poetry, “A Far Allegiance,” The Backwaters Press, 2010. Reprinted by permission of Roy Scheele 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.