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American Life in Poetry

by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-2006

Poems of simple pleasure, poems of quiet celebration, well, they aren't anything like those poems we were asked to wrestle with in high school, our teachers insisting that we get a headlock on the meaning. This one by Dale Ritterbusch of Wisconsin is more my cup of tea.

Green Tea

There is this tea

I have sometimes,

Pan Long Ying Hao,

so tightly curled

it looks like tiny roots

gnarled, a greenish-gray.

When it steeps, it opens

the way you woke this morning,

stretching, your hands behind

your head, back arched,

toes pointing, a smile steeped

in ceremony, a celebration,

the reaching of your arms.


Reprinted from Far From the Temple of Heaven, Black Moss Press, April 2006, by permission of the author. Copyright 2005 by Dale Ritterbusch. This weekly column is supported by the Poetry Foundation, the Library of Congress and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

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