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Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2007 01:02 am

People's poetry

Jacqueline Jackson presents

Untitled Document daughterpoem #3     
elspeth seven displaying scratches
made by her cat mudge remarks
ruefully even the mother that
loves it goes through many hardships
© Jacqueline Jackson 2007

Children at play give personalities to lifeless objects, and we don’t need to give up that pleasure as we grow older. Poets are good at discerning life within what otherwise might seem lifeless. Here the poet Peter Pereira, a family physician in the Seattle area, contemplates a smiling statue, and in that moment of contemplation the smile is given by the statue to the man.
The Garden Buddha
Gift of a friend, the stone Buddha sits zazen, prayer beads clutched in his chubby fingers. Through snow, icy rain, the riot of spring flowers, he gazes forward to the city in the distance — always
the same bountiful smile upon his portly face. Why don’t I share his one-minded happiness? The pear blossom, the crimson-petaled magnolia, filling me instead with a mixture of nostalgia
and yearning. He’s laughing at me, isn’t he? The seasons wheeling despite my photographs and notes, my desire to make them pause. Is that the lesson? That stasis, this holding on,
is not life? Now I’m smiling, too — the late cherry, its soft pink blossoms already beginning to scatter; the trillium, its three-petaled white flowers exquisitely tinged with purple as they fall.
Poem copyright © by Peter Pereira. Reprinted from What’s Written on the Body, by Peter Pereira (Copper Canyon Press, 2007). 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.
Ted Kooser served as the U.S. poet laureate 2004-2006. For more information, go to www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.
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