American Life in Poetry: Column 766

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

A wise and loving father fishing with his two sons. Norman Maclean wrote about a time like that in his book A River Runs Through It, and here's a poem by Todd Davis that catches much the same feeling in far fewer words. That's not to denigrate Maclean but to point out that there are many ways for us to write about our lives. The poet lives in Pennsylvania and this poem is from his book Native Species, published by Michigan State University Press.

Thankful for Now

Walking the river back home at the end
of May, locust in bloom, an oriole flitting
through dusky crowns, and the early night sky
going peach, day's late glow the color of that fruit's
flesh, dribbling down over everything, christening
my sons, the two of them walking before me
after a day of fishing, one of them placing a hand
on the other's shoulder, pointing toward a planet
that's just appeared, or the swift movement
of that yellow and black bird disappearing
into the growing dark, and now the light, pink
as a crabapple's flower, and my legs tired
from wading the higher water, and the rocks
that keep turning over, nearly spilling me
into the river, but still thankful for now
when I have enough strength to stay
a few yards behind them, loving this time
of day that shows me the breadth
of their backs, their lean, strong legs
striding, how we all go on in this cold water,
heading home to the sound of the last few
trout splashing, as mayflies float
through the shadowed riffles.


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 ©2019 by Todd Davis, "Thankful for Now," from Native Species, (Michigan State University Press, 2019). Poem reprinted by permission of Todd Davis 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.