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Wednesday, March 19, 2008 01:41 am

People's Poetry

Jacqueline Jackson presents

Untitled Document birthdaypoem #1
I stood nearby at cressid’s birth            
a new wee girl upon the earth I marveled as her mother bore her I had birthed that child before her I a child my mother bore me she her mother her before me
I have come to realize feelings seldom synchronize moments of the deepest kind craving a companion mind are often hardest ones to share it’s not that those I love don’t care but they are all at different places different worries different faces and most times when I have tried words don’t come my tongue is tied or if they come they can’t convey all behind the words need say
but at a birth the moments touch (and at a death) I know that much
© Jacqueline Jackson 2008

Here, poet Yusef Komunyakaa, who teaches at New York University, shows us a fine portrait of the hard life of a worker — in this case, a horse — and, through metaphor, the terrible, clumsy beauty of his final moments.

When the plowblade struck An old stump hiding under The soil like a beggar’s Rotten tooth, they swarmed up & Mister Jackson left the plow Wedged like a whaler’s harpoon. The horse was midnight Against dusk, tethered to somebody’s Pocketwatch. He shivered, but not The way women shook their heads Before mirrors at the five & dime — a deeper connection To the low field’s evening star. He stood there, in tracechains, Lathered in froth, just Stopped by a great, goofy Calmness. He whinnied Once, & then the whole Beautiful, blue-black sky Fell on his back.

Poem copyright © 2001 by Yusef Komunyakaa, reprinted from Pleasure Dome: New & Collected Poems, 1975-1999 (Wesleyan Univ. Press, 2001). 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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