Writing for Business and Pleasure            Home
  Copyright by Stephen Wilbers
                 Contact

Google
 Search
www.wilbers.com

American Life in Poetry

A feature provided by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-2006

The ancient Chinese poets used to say that at some point in each poem the poet ought to lift his (or her) eyes, ought to look beyond the surface of the present into something deeper and more meaningful. Here is just such a poem by Linda M. Hasselstrom, who lives in South Dakota.
 

Planting Peas

It’s not spring yet, but I can’t

wait anymore. I get the hoe,

pull back the snow from the old

furrows, expose the rich dark earth.

I bare my hand and dole out shriveled peas,

one by one.

 

I see my grandmother’s hand,

doing just this, dropping peas

into gray gumbo that clings like clay.

This moist earth is rich and dark

as chocolate cake.

 

Her hands cradle

baby chicks; she finds kittens in the loft

and hands them down to me, safe beside

the ladder leading up to darkness.

 

I miss

her smile, her blue eyes, her biscuits and gravy,

but mostly her hands.

I push a pea into the earth,

feel her hands pushing me back. She’ll come in May,

she says, in long straight rows,

dancing in light green dresses.

 

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.

 

Introduction copyright © 2009 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.

 

"If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry."
    -- Emily Dickinson


This Northern Nonsense: Poems by Stephen Wilbers

Poem for Dale Schatzlein