American Life in Poetry: Column 775
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
This week and next I want to show you two beautiful poems of grief and loss by David Baker, from his new and selected poems, Swift, published in 2019 by W. W. Norton. Baker teaches at Denison University in Ohio and is the poetry editor of Kenyon Review, one of our most distinguished literary journals.
It was midday before we noticed it was morning.
The boy cousins brought us a tray—soup and cheese,
warm soda, and a soft cloth and candy for her fever.
They wouldn't come in, the tray weighing between them.
They stood like woodwork inside the door frame.
By afternoon the old procession—silence at the lip
of a dozen night travelers tired and grieving, one
by one, or pairs floating to the bed and back
with a touching of hands like humming,
and the one we gathered for slipping farther
for all the good we could do. She lay in her shadow.
She looked to no one. Her daylilies bobbed wide
open out in the wild, blue sun and the same bee
kept nosing her window to reach them.
Dusk: even the boys were back watching it try.
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 David Baker, "Faith," from Swift, (W. W. Norton, 2019). Poem reprinted by permission of David Baker 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.