Saturday, April 16, 2005

American Life in Poetry: Column 003

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

A poem need not go on at great length to accomplish the work of conveying something meaningful to its readers. In the following poem by the late Marnie Walsh, just a few words, written as if they'd been recorded in exactly the manner in which they'd been spoken, tell us not only about the missing woman in the red high heels, but a little something about the speaker as well.

Bessie Dreaming Bear
Rosebud, So. Dak., 1960

we all went to town one day
went to a store
bought you new shoes
red high heels

ain't seen you since.

Reprinted from "A Taste of the Knife," Ahsahta Press, 1976, by permission of Tom Trusky, literary executor of the Walsh estate. 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.

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American Life in Poetry provides newspapers and online publications with a free weekly column featuring contemporary American poems. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.

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