Emily Dickinson said that poems come at the truth at a slant. Here a birdbath and some overturned chairs on a nursing home lawn suggest the frailties of old age. Masterful poems choose the very best words and put them in the very best places, and Michigan poet Rodney Torreson has deftly chosen "ministers" for his first verb, an active verb that suggests the good work of the nursing home's chaplain.
The Bethlehem Nursing Home
A birdbath ministers
to the lawn chairs,
all toppled: a recliner
on its face, metal arms
trying to push it up;
an overturned rocker,
curvature of the spine.
Armchairs on their sides,
One faces the flowers.
A director's chair
folded, as if prepared
to be taken up.
From "A Breathable Light," New Issues Poetry and Prose, 2002, and first published in "Cape Rock". Copyright (c) 2002 by Rodney Torreson; reprinted by permission of the author. 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:
- The Ted Kooser Page: Links to online Interviews, Recordings, Poetry, Prose, Reviews, Photos and more;
- American Life in Poetry #49: Rodney Torreson;
- American Life in Poetry #48: Walt McDonald;
- 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;
- American Life in Poetry #17: Wendell Berry;
- American Life in Poetry #11: David Wagoner;
- American Life in Poetry #10: Marge Piercy;
- American Life in Poetry #4: Ruth Stone;
- More from American Life in Poetry >>>
Also at Virtual Grub Street from The Poetry Foundation: