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Monday, May 25, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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American Life in Poetry: ‘Rain Changing to Snow’

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

I’d guess that at least every other person reading this column did at one time, as a child, carry home some animal that he or she wouldn’t be able to keep.

Here’s Connie Wanek, who lives in New Mexico, remembering her son in just such a moment. Connie’s most recent book is a collection of her “Mrs. God” poems titled “Consider the Lilies” published by Will o’ the Wisp Books.

Rain Changing to Snow

He came home from middle school

with a wet kitten tucked inside

his black leather jacket.

He’d found it shivering in the tall grass

flattened by rain.

It could only belong to him

for fifteen minutes

and it understood that, I think.

Though just a few weeks old,

already it expected disappointment.

Yet it began to purr,

this scrap of cloud-gray fur,

as he drew it forth to show me.

Castaway (its name

he said), so lonely and hungry

after the shipwreck of

another day at school.

Poem copyright ©2018 by Connie Wanek, “Rain Changing to Snow,” (2018). Poem reprinted by permission of Connie Wanek. 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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