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Poetry

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Here's a beautiful poem evoking a vivid memory by David Mason, who teaches at Colorado College and has served his state as poet laureate. There's not one extra word in this, and every word — with that word's singular music — is set in the perfect position. This poem is from his forthcoming book, The Sound: New and Selected Poems, (Red Hen Press, 2018).

***

The fence was down. Out among humid smells

and shrill cicadas we walked, the lichened trunks

moon-blue, our faces blue and our hands.

***

Led by their bellwether bellies, the sheep

had toddled astray. The neighbor farmer's woods

or coyotes might have got them, or the far road.

***

I remember the night, the moon-colored grass

we waded through to look for them, the oaks

tangled and dark, like starting a story midway.

***

We gazed over seed heads to the barn

toppled in the homestead orchard. Then we saw

the weather of white wool, a cloud in the blue

***

moving without sound as if charmed

by the moon beholding them out of bounds.

Time has not tightened the wire or righted the barn.

***

The unpruned orchard rots in its meadow

and the story unravels, the sunlight creeping back

like a song with nobody left to hear it.

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2016 by David Mason, “Mending Time,” from The Sound: New and Selected Poems, (Red Hen Press, forthcoming in 2018). Poem reprinted by permission of David Mason and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2017 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

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