American Life in Poetry: Column 720


A child at a school bus stop, on his way out into the world, a fine subject for a fine poem by Dante Di Stefano, who lives in Endwell, New York.Might we all live out our days in a place called Endwell!"With a Coat" is from his book from Brighthorse Books of Omaha, Nebraska, entitled Love is a Stone Endlessly in Flight.

With a Coat

I was cold and leaned against the big oak tree
as if it were my mother wearing a rough apron
of bark, her upraised arms warning of danger.
Through those boughs and leaves I saw
dark patches of sky. I thought a brooding
witch waited to catch me up from under
branches and take me, careening on her broom,
to her home in the jaundiced moon.
I looked to the roof of mom and dad's house
and wondered if the paisley couch patterns
would change during the day. My brother peeked
from a window and waved. When the bus came,
I pawed away from the trunk, fumbled,
and took my first step toward not returning.

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 ©2016 by Dante Di Stefano, "With a Coat," from Love is a Stone Endlessly in Flight, (Brighthorse Books, 2016). Poem reprinted by permission of Dante Di Stefano 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.