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Wednesday, July 2, 2008 01:31 pm

People's Poetry

Jacqueline Jackson presents

Untitled Document farmerletter #3 (to Jackie from her father, 1948)
july 4 we finally got rain about  
ten days ago good enough to start some of the corn that hadn’t sprouted some fields are good many only about two thirds of a stand nothing a complete failure although it makes me sick to think  
how much we stand to lose just because we couldn’t have had a little thunder shower about june 1 © Jacqueline Jackson 2008

I remember being scared to death when, at about 30 years of age, I saw an X-ray of my skull. Seeing one’s self as a skeleton, or receiving any kind of medical report, even when the news is good, can be unsettling. Suddenly, you’re just another body, a clock waiting to stop. Here’s a telling poem by Rick Campbell, who lives and teaches in Florida.

My heart was suspect. Wired to an EKG, I walked a treadmill that measured my ebb and flow, tracked isotopes that ploughed my veins, looked for a constancy I’ve hardly ever found. For a month I worried as I climbed the stairs to my office. The mortality I never believed in was here now. They say my heart’s ok, just high cholesterol, but I know my heart’s a house someone has broken into, a room you come back to and know some stranger with bad intent has been there and touched all that you love. You know he can come back. It’s his call, his house now.

Poem copyright © 2006 by Rick Campbell and reprinted from Dixmont (Autumn House Press, 2008). 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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