American Life in Poetry: Column 783

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Karen Head lives in Georgia, and possums seem to live everywhere. You may drive past a dead one on a roadside somewhere today. Here's a poem in which the poet chooses to keep a safe distance from wildness. Head's most recent book is Lost on Purpose, published by Iris Press in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Proximity

The young possum foraging
outside my office window
seems unconcerned by my presence—
after all, I'm the one who's trapped.
I snack on almonds, watch
it nibble whatever it can find,
and though I am inclined to share,
I know that opening the window
will change the world.


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 Karen Head, "Proximity," from Lost on Purpose, (Iris Press, 2019). Poem reprinted by permission of Karen Head 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.