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Wednesday, March 26, 2008 06:09 am

People's poetry

Jacqueline Jackson presents

Untitled Document inmemorium poem #1

(Terri Jackson was an
SSU graduate and then
on the UIS staff till her
recent death at 50, of
cancer. She was
universally beloved.)

be there heaven
be there gold
then terri’s there
within the fold  

© Jacqueline Jackson 2008

The American poet Elizabeth Bishop often wrote of how places — both familiar and foreign — looked, how they seemed. Here Marianne Boruch of Indiana begins her poem in this way, too, in a space familiar to us all but made new — made strange — by close observation.

It seems so —
I don’t know. It seems as if the end of the world has never happened in here. No smoke, no dizzy flaring except those candles you can light in the chapel for a quarter. They last maybe an hour before burning out.
And in this room where we wait, I see them pass, the surgical folk —
nurses, doctors, the guy who hangs up the blood drop — ready for lunch, their scrubs still starched into wrinkles, a cheerful green or pale blue, and the end of a joke, something about a man who thought he could be —
what? I lose it in their brief laughter.

Poem copyright © 2006 by Marianne Boruch, whose most recent book of poetry is Grace, Fallen from (Wesleyan University Press, 2008). Poem reprinted from TriQuarterly (Issue 126). 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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