June 17, 2012 in Features

American Life in Poetry

Ted Kooser U.S. poet laureate, 2004-2006

Julie Suk is a North Carolinian who, like all good writers, has taught herself to pay attention to what’s happening right under her nose. Here’s a good example of her poetry.

Loving the Hands

I could make a wardrobe

with tufts of wool

caught on thistle and bracken.

Lost – the scraps

I might have woven whole cloth.

Come watch, the man says,

shearing sheep

with the precision of long practice,

fleece, removed all of a piece,

rolled in a neat bundle.

I’ve been so clumsy

with people who’ve loved me.

Straddling a ewe,

the man props its head on his foot,

leans down with clippers,

each pass across the coat a caress.

His dogs, lying nearby,

tremble at every move – as I do,

loving the hands that have learned

to gentle the life beneath them.

Poem copyright 2011 by Julie Suk, from her most recent book of poems, “Lie Down with Me: New and Selected Poems,” Autumn House Press, 2011. Poem reprinted by permission of Julie Suk and the publisher. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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