American Life in Poetry: Column 645


Poets are experts at capturing those moments when one thing reminds us of another. Here snow reminds Catherine Stearns of something we can imagine took place years before. Stearns lives in Massachusetts, and her most recent book is The Transparency of Skin, (New Rivers Press).

Snow in August

With a flick
of her wrist, she broke
the chicken's neck
and set it on her lap
where my sister's head
had just been. Over
her bare knees dangled
waxy yellow bird feet,
while the white feathers
she began to pluck
fell all around us.

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 Catherine Stearns, “Snow in August,” from The Cortland Review, (Issue 66, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of Catherine Stearns 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.