American life in poetry
No ideas but in things, said one of my favorite poets, William Carlos Williams, and here’s a fine poem by Maryann Corbett, of St. Paul, Minnesota, about turning up one small object loaded with meaning.
Finding the Lego
You find it when you’re tearing up your life,
trying to make some sense of the old messes,
moving dressers, peering under beds.
Almost lost in cat hair and in cobwebs,
in dust you vaguely know was once your skin,
it shows up, isolated, fragmentary.
A tidy little solid. Tractable.
Knobbed to be fitted in a lock-step pattern
with others. Plastic: red or blue or yellow.
Out of the dark, undamaged, there it is,
as bright and primary colored and foursquare
as the family with two parents and two children
who moved in twenty years ago in a dream.
It makes no allowances, concedes no failures,
admits no knowledge of a little girl
who glared through tears, rubbing her slapped cheek.
Rigidity is its essential trait.
Likely as not, you leave it where it was.
Poem copyright 2013 by Maryann Corbett, from her “Credo for the Checkout Line in Winter” (Able Muse Press, 2013) and is reprinted by permission of the author and publisher. American Life in Poetry is supported by The Poetry Foundation and the department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.