American Life in Poetry: Column 545
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
How could we publish a column about American Life in Poetry without including a poem about a high school reunion? This is from Barbara Crooker’s Selected Poems from Futurecycle Press. She lives in Pennsylvania.
A quarter of a century
since we left high school,
and we’ve gathered at a posh restaurant.
A little heavier, a little grayer,
we look for the yearbook pictures
caught inside these bodies of strangers.
Some of our faces are etched with lines,
the faint tracing of a lover’s touch,
and some of our hair is silver-white,
a breath of frost. And some of us are gone.
But he’s here, the dark angel,
everyone’s last lover, up at the microphone
singing Save the last dance for me;
he’s singing a cappella, the notes rising
sweetly, yearningly toward the ceiling,
which is now festooned with tissue flowers,
paper streamers, balloons.
And we’re all eighteen again,
lines and wrinkles erased, gray hairs gone,
our slim bodies back, the perfect editing.
A saxophone keens its reedy insistence;
scents of gardenias and tea roses float in the air
from our wrist corsages and boutonnieres.
No children or lovers have broken our hearts,
it’s just all of us, together,
in our fresh young skin,
ready to do it all over again.
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 Barbara Crooker, “25th Reunion,” from Selected Poems, (Futurecycle Press, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of Barbara Crooker 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.