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American Life in Poetry: That New

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

A while back we published a column in which I talked about my delight in the many names of kinds of apples, and mentioned Louise Bogan’s marvelous midcentury poem “The Crossed Apple.” Here’s yet another fine apple-name poem for my collection, by Susan Rothbard, who lives in New Jersey.

That New

At the market today, I look for Piñata

apples, their soft-blush-yellow. My husband

brought them home last week, made me guess at

the name of this new strain, held one in his hand

like a gift and laughed as I tried all

the names I knew: Gala, Fuji, Honey

Crisp – watched his face for clues – what to call

something new? It’s winter, only tawny

hues and frozen ground, but that apple bride

was sweet, and I want to bring it back to him,

that new. When he cut it, the star inside

held seeds of other stars, the way within

a life are all the lives you might live,

each unnamed, until you name it.

Poem copyright 2012 by Susan Rothbard, “That New,” from The Cortland Review, (No. 58,2012). Poem reprinted by permission of the author 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 submissions.

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