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American Life in Poetry

If you’ve followed this column through a good part of the seven years we’ve been publishing it, you know how hooked I am on poems that take a close look at the ordinary world. Here’s a fine poem by Eamon Grennan, who lives in New York state, about bees caught up against a closed window.

Up Against It

It’s the way they cannot understand the window

they buzz and buzz against, the bees that take

a wrong turn at my door and end up thus

in a drift at first of almost idle curiosity,

cruising the room until they find themselves

smack up against it and they cannot fathom how

the air has hardened and the world they know

with their eyes keeps out of reach as, stuck there

with all they want just in front of them, they must

fling their bodies against the one unalterable law

of things – this fact of glass – and can only go on

making the sound that tethers their electric

fury to what’s impossible, feeling the sting in it.

Poem copyright 2010 by Eamon Grennan from “Out of Sight: New & Selected Poems” (Graywolf Press), and reprinted by permission of the author and publisher. American Life in Poetry is supported by The Poetry Foundation and the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.