Many of us keep journals, but while doing so few of us pay much attention to selecting the most precise words, to determining their most effective order, to working with effective pauses and breath-like pacing, to presenting an engaging impression of a single, unique day. This poem by Nebraskan Nancy McCleery is a good example of one poet's carefully recorded observations.
The backyard is one white sheet
Where we read in the bird tracks
The songs we hear. Delicate
Sparrow, heavier cardinal,
Filigree threads of chickadee.
And wing patterns where one flew
Low, then up and away, gone
To the woods but calling out
Clearly its bright epigrams.
More snow promised for tonight.
The postal van is stalled
In the road again, the mail
Will be late and any good news
Will reach us by hand.
Reprinted from "Girl Talk," The Backwaters Press, 2002, by permission of the author. Copyright (c) 1994 by Nancy McCleery. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.
Also at Virtual Grub Street by/about Ted Kooser:
- American Gothic (a review of Delights and Shadows by Ted Kooser. Copper Canyon Press, 2004);
- Ted Kooser and the American Life in Poetry column;
- American Life in Poetry #32: Kurt Brown;
- American Life in Poetry #31: Gloria G. Murray;
- American Life in Poetry #30: Naomi Shihab Nye;
- American Life in Poetry #29: Debra Nystrom;
- American Life in Poetry #28: Ron Rash;
- More from American Life in Poetry >>>
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