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American Life in Poetry

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

I have irises that have been handed down through my family over the generations, being dug up again and again, moved to another house, another garden. Here’s a poem about that sort of inheritance, by Debra Wierenga, who lives in Michigan.

Chiller Pansies

Your pansies died again today.

All June I’ve watched them scorch and fall

by noon, their faces folding down

to tissue-paper triangles.

I bring them back with water, words,

a pinch, but they are sick to death

of resurrection. You planted them

last fall, these “Chillers” guaranteed

to come again in spring. They returned

in April – you did not. You who said

pick all you want, it just makes more!

one day in 1963,

and I, a daughter raised on love

and miracles, believed it.

Poem copyright 2011 by Debra Wierenga. Poem reprinted from the Nimrod International Journal, Spring/Summer 2011, Vol. 54, No. 2, by permission of Debra Wierenga 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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