American Life in Poetry

Apr 11, 2007 at 12:00 am
American Life in Poetry

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

By describing the relocation of the moles which ravaged her yard, Washington poet Judith Kitchen presents an experience that resonates beyond the simple details, and suggests that children can learn important lessons through observation of the natural world.


Catching the Moles

First we tamp down the ridges

that criss-cross the yard

then wait for the ground

to move again.

I hold the shoe box,

you, the trowel.

When I give you the signal

you dig in behind

and flip forward.

Out he pops into daylight,

blind velvet.

We nudge him into the box,

carry him down the hill.

Four times we've done it.

The children worry.

Have we let them all go

at the very same spot?

Will they find each other?

We can't be sure ourselves,

only just beginning to learn

the fragile rules of uprooting.


Poem copyright (c) 1986 by Judith Kitchen, whose most recent book is the novel, The House on Eccles Road, Graywolf Press, 2004. Reprinted from Perennials, Anhinga Press, 1986, with permission of the author. 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.