November 3, 2013 in Features

American Life in Poetry

Ted Kooser U.S. poet laureate, 2004-06
 

I’m a sucker for miniatures, I suppose because it’s easy to believe I have control over my world when some of its parts are very small and I have positioned them to my liking. Here’s a telling poem about a tiny plastic soldier by Mary M. Brown of Indiana.

Classic Toy

The plastic army men are always green.

They’re caught in awkward poses,

one arm outstretched as if to fire,

legs parted and forever stuck on a swiggle

of support, as rigid and green as the boots.

This one has impressions of pockets,

a belt, a collar, a grip on tiny binoculars

intended to enlarge, no doubt, some

tiny enemy.

In back, attached to the belt is a canteen

or a grenade (it’s hard to tell). The helmet

is pulled down low, so as to hide the eyes.

If I point the arm, the gun, toward me,

I see that this soldier is very thin.

It’s almost unreal, how thin he is.

Poem copyright 2012 by Mary M. Brown from Third Wednesday, Vol. 4, Issue 3, 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.


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