American Life in Poetry: Column 790
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
Once, as a young man, I needed a pair of black shoes to wear at a wedding at which I was to be a groomsman and after work one day I was following a truck with a flapping canvas over the open back, when out of it spilled box after box of shoes, and I pulled over to the side, jumped out and grabbed a pair that fit me perfectly. Here’s another experience like that, as described by Lucy Adkins, a poet from Nebraska, whose most recent book is One Life Shining. I found this in the Summer 2019 issue of Plainsongs.
PotatoesHe was traveling from Chicago
to Joliet, he said, on the expressway,
Old State Highway 59, when a
semi rollover caused a load of potatoes
to scatter across the road.
People stopped, pulled their
pickups and jeeps, their Chevy vans
and VW bugs off to the shoulder,
got out and dashed across three lanes
of traffic after Idaho russets and
Yukon Golds, reds and whites and yams.
I’d have understood if it were
a Brinks truck with flyaway tens
and twenties. But potatoes?
Perhaps it was the fact of
sudden bounty dropping down
in front of you, and like unexpected
grace, you must be grateful,
whatever it is that is given.
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 Lucy Adkins, "Potatoes," from Plainsongs (Summer 2019). Poem reprinted by permission of Lucy Adkins 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.