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American Life in Poetry

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

Of taking long walks it has been said that a person can walk off anything. Here David Mason hikes a mountain in his home state, Colorado, and steps away from an undisclosed personal loss into another state, one of healing.

In the Mushroom Summer

Colorado turns Kyoto in a shower,

mist in the pines so thick the crows delight (or seem to), winging in obscurity.

The ineffectual panic of a squirrel

who chattered at my passing gave me pause to watch his Ponderosa come and go— long needles scratching cloud. I'd summited but knew it only by the wildflower meadow, the muted harebells, paintbrush, gentian, scattered among the locoweed and sage.

Today my grief abated like water soaking underground, its scar a little path of twigs and needles winding ahead of me downhill to the next bend. Today I let the rain soak through my shirt and was unharmed.

Reprinted by permission from The Hudson Review, Vol. LIX, No. 2 (Summer 2006). Copyright 2006 by David Mason. 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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