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American Life in Poetry: ‘Ascension’ by John Stanizzi

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

John Stanizzi is a poet living in Connecticut, whose work we’ve published before. His most recent collection of poems is “Chants,” from Cervena Barva Press. Our column has published a number of poems about facing the loss of family members, and others about the rush of time. This poem addresses both subjects.


First day of February,

and in the far corner of the yard

the Adirondack chair,

blown over by the wind at Christmas,

is still on its back,

the snow too deep for me

to traipse out and right it,

the ice too sheer

to risk slamming these old bones

to the ground.

In a hospital bed in her room

where her bed used to be,

and her husband,

my Aunt Millie keeps reaching up

for the far corner of the room,

whispering That is so interesting.

I will go now.

In April

I will walk out

across the warming grass,

and right the chair

as if there had never been anything

to stop me in the first place,

listening for the buzz of hummingbirds

which reminds me of how fast

things are capable of moving.

Poem copyright 2018 by John Stanizzi, and reprinted by permission of the author. 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 submissions.

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