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American Life in Poetry

The poems of Leo Dangel, who lives in South Dakota, are known for their clarity and artful understatement. Here he humbly honors the memory of one moment of deep intimacy between a mother and her son.

In Memoriam

In the early afternoon my mother

was doing the dishes. I climbed

onto the kitchen table, I suppose

to play, and fell asleep there.

I was drowsy and awake, though,

as she lifted me up, carried me

on her arms into the living room,

and placed me on the davenport,

but I pretended to be asleep

the whole time, enjoying the luxury—

I was too big for such a privilege

and just old enough to form

my only memory of her carrying me.

She’s still moving me to a softer place.

Poem copyright 2013 by Leo Dangel from “Saving Singletrees” (WSC Press, 2013) and reprinted by permission of the author and publisher. American Life in Poetry is supported by the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.


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