April 2, 2006 in Features

American Life in Poetry

Ted Kooser U.S. Poet Laureate
 

Walt Whitman’s poems took in the world through a wide-angle lens, including nearly everything, but most later poets have focused much more narrowly. Here the poet and novelist Jim Harrison nods to Whitman with a sweeping, inclusive poem about the course of life.

Marching

At dawn I heard among bird calls

the billions of marching feet in the churn

and squeak of gravel, even tiny feet

still wet from the mother’s amniotic fluid,

and very old halting feet, the feet

of the very light and very heavy, all marching

but not together, criss-crossing at every angle

with sincere attempts not to touch, not to bump

into each other, walking in the doors of houses

and out the back door forty years later, finally

knowing that time collapses on a single

plateau where they were all their lives,

knowing that time stops when the heart stops

as they walk off the earth into the night air.

Get stories like this in a free daily email


Please keep it civil. Don't post comments that are obscene, defamatory, threatening, off-topic, an infringement of copyright or an invasion of privacy. Read our forum standards and community guidelines.

You must be logged in to post comments. Please log in here or click the comment box below for options.

comments powered by Disqus