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Wednesday, June 4, 2008 08:29 am

People's Poetry

Jacqueline Jackson presents

Untitled Document ypoolpoem #8  

there’s a lot of good to be said for swimming every dawn at the y the bad part is the insufferable music and the inane talk show two people without a brain between them but once in a while joe the lifeguard a doughty scotsman plays the soundtrack to braveheart then we all swim to bagpipes
© Jacqueline Jackson 2008

In “The Moose,” a poem much too long to print here, the late Elizabeth Bishop was able to show a community being created from a group of strangers on a bus who come in contact with a moose on the highway. They watch it together and become one. Here Robert Bly of Minnesota assembles a similar community, around an eclipse. Notice how the experience happens to “we,” the group, not just to “me,” the poet.

Seeing the Eclipse in Maine
It started about noon. On top of Mount Batte, We were all exclaiming. Someone had a cardboard And a pin, and we all cried out when the sun Appeared in tiny form on the notebook cover.
It was hard to believe. The high school teacher We’d met called it a pinhole camera, People in the Renaissance loved to do that. And when the moon had passed partly through
We saw on a rock underneath a fir tree, Dozens of crescents — made the same way —
Thousands! Even our straw hats produced A few as we moved them over the bare granite.
We shared chocolate, and one man from Maine Told a joke. Suns were everywhere — at our feet.

Poem © 1997 by Robert Bly, whose most recent book of poetry is My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy (Harper Perennial, 2006). Poem reprinted from Music, Pictures, and Stories (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 2002). 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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