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Copyright by Stephen Wilbers, Ph.D.


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American Life in Poetry

This poem, provided as a weekly feature by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-2006, happened to be distributed the same week of Dale's death.

Of taking long walks it has been said that a person can walk off anything. Here David Mason hikes a mountain in his home state, Colorado, and steps away from an undisclosed personal loss into another state, one of healing.


In the Mushroom Summer*

Colorado turns Kyoto in a shower,
mist in the pines so thick the crows delight
(or seem to), winging in obscurity.
The ineffectual panic of a squirrel
who chattered at my passing gave me pause
to watch his Ponderosa come and go--
long needles scratching cloud. I'd summited
but knew it only by the wildflower meadow,
the muted harebells, paintbrush, gentian,
scattered among the locoweed and sage.
Today my grief abated like water soaking
underground, its scar a little path
of twigs and needles winding ahead of me
downhill to the next bend. Today I let
the rain soak through my shirt and was unharmed.


*I'm posting this poem in memory of my friend of 25 years, Dale Schatzlein,



who died of a heart attack on August 31, 2006, while biking in Colorado. I'm looking forward to finding the moment David Mason describes in this poem, when my grief abates "like water soaking underground." Stephen Wilbers

Reprinted by permission from "The Hudson Review," Vol. LIX, No. 2 (Summer 2006). Copyright (c) 2006 by David Mason.

This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.


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