American Life in Poetry
by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-2006
Some of the most telling poetry being written in our country today has to do with the smallest and briefest of pleasures. Here Marie Howe of New York captures a magical moment: sitting in the shelter of a leafy tree with the rain falling all around.
The Copper Beech
Immense, entirely itself,
it wore that yard like
with limbs low enough for me to enter it and climb the crooked ladder to where
I could lean against the trunk and practice being alone.
One day, I heard the sound before I saw it, rain fell darkening the sidewalk.
Sitting close to the
center, not very high in the branches, I heard it hitting the high leaves, and I was happy,
watching it happen
without it happening
Reprinted from What the Living Do, W. W. Norton & Co., 1997. Copyright 1997 by Marie Howe. 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.