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Wednesday, July 16, 2008 05:34 am

People's Poetry

Jacqueline Jackson presents

Untitled Document lovepoem #11  

damaris supple lithe half century in age up since three to fly here from afar she charges back and forth the porch’s length stamping striding flinging wide her arms I ease out perch on a bed watch her move watch her sway from side to side her body now a soft parenthesis now all sharp angles a sudden twist a twirl she stretches spirals flexes fingers parades prances pivots spins swoops flicks me a smile says I’d do this even if you weren’t watching my body craves it she frenzies into wild gyrations slows to glissando backbends strokes the air glides gentle as the dark lake beyond her forth and back forth and back she is ripples on the moonlit rocks later she comes to my bedside smoothes and smoothes my hair from my forehead says you used to do this to us when you tucked us in
© Jacqueline Jackson 2008

Sometimes I think that people are at their happiest when they’re engaged in activities close to the work of the earliest humans: telling stories around a fire, taking care of children, hunting, making clothes. Here an Iowan, Ann Struthers, speaks of one of those original tasks, digging in the dirt.

Planting the Sand Cherry
Today I planted the sand cherry with red leaves —
and hope that I can go on digging in this yard, pruning the grape vine, twisting the silver lace on its trellis, the one that bloomed just before the frost flowered over all the garden. Next spring I will plant more zinnias, marigolds, straw flowers, pearly everlasting, and bleeding heart. I plant that for you, old love, old friend, and lilacs for remembering. The lily-of-the-valley with cream-colored bells, bent over slightly, bowing to the inevitable, flowers for a few days, a week. Now its broad blade leaves are streaked with brown and the stem dried to a pale hair. In place of the silent bells, red berries like rose hips blaze close to the ground. It is important for me to be down on my knees, my fingers sifting the black earth, making those things grow which will grow. Sometimes I save a weed if its leaves are spread fern-like, hand-like, or if it grows with a certain impertinence. I let the goldenrod stay and the wild asters. I save the violets in spring. People who kill violets will do anything.

Poem copyright © 2004 by Ann Struthers, whose most recent book of poetry is What You Try To Tame (The Coe Review Press, 2004). Poem reprinted from Stoneboat & Other Poems by Ann Struthers (Iowa Poets Series, The Pterodactyl Press, 1988). American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Ted Kooser served as the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2004-2006. For more information, go to www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.
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