Presented by Jacqueline Jackson
a snowtopped mountain over
we hiked on pine needles pine cones
under the ponderosas pinons
pushed through tiny gambel
brown curled leaves thumb size
high onto the alpine meadow of
no goats no ranch dried cow
perhaps a bull’s those are knobbly
yucca wooly mullen and starred flat
on the ground a delicate green
reddened ends one with an
tiny blue flower ant hill
as your waist I wonder what
placed that pinnacle pebble
and in a
waterless gulch I saw where a
in the woods the skat eroded but
solid with juniper berries their
©Jacqueline Jackson 2006
AMERICAN LIFE IN POETRY
Edited by Ted Kooser
This wistful poem shows how the familiar and the odd, the real and imaginary, exist side by side. A Midwestern father transforms himself from a staid businessman into a rock & roll star, reclaiming a piece of his imaginary youth. In the end, it shows how fragile moments might be recovered to offer a glimpse into our inner lives.
My Father Holds the Door for Yoko Ono
In New York City for a conference
on weed control, leaving the hotel
in a cluster of horticulturalists,
he alone stops, midwestern, crewcut,
narrow blue tie, cufflinks, wingtips,
holds the door for the Asian woman
in a miniskirt and thigh high
white leather boots. She nods
slightly, a sad and beautiful gesture.
Neither smile, as if performing
a timeless ritual, as if anticipating
the loss of a son or a lover.
Years later, Christmas, inexplicably
he dons my mother’s auburn wig,
my brother’s wire-rimmed glasses,
and strikes a pose clowning
with my second hand acoustic guitar.
He is transformed, a working class hero
and a door whispers shut,
like cherry blossoms falling.
Reprinted from Folio (Winter 2004) by
permission of the author. Copyright © 2004 by Christopher Chambers, who teaches
creative writing at Loyola University New Orleans. 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.
Ted Kooser served as the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2004-2006. For more information, go to www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.