American Life in Poetry: Column 582


Here's a touching father-son poem by Jennifer Gray, who lives in Nebraska. If you're not big enough to push a real mower, well, you make a mower of your own.

Summer Mowing

He has transformed
his Tonka dump truck
into a push mower, using
lumber scraps and duct tape
to construct a handle
on the front end of the dump box.
One brave screw
holds the makeshift
contraption together.
All summer they outline
the edges of these acres,
first Daddy, and then,
behind him
this small echo, each
dodging the same stumps,
pausing to slap a mosquito,
or rest in the shade,
before once again pacing
out into the light,
where first one,
and then the other,
leans forward to guide the mowers
along the bright edges
of this familiar world.

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 ©2015 by Jennifer Gray, “Summer Mowing,” from Plainsongs, (Vol. XXXV, no. 3, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of Jennifer Gray 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.