The “American Life in Poetry” column for this week was posted early by their webmasters, so I posted it by accident yesterday and wondered why they’d made such a dour choice for holiday-week. (They usually post the column on a Monday and I post it the next Sunday…different newspapers and other publications post it on different days….) Oy. HERE’S the one for this week. It’s much happier. 🙂 Apples and stars…. -TAA

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American Life in Poetry: Column 613

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

A while back we published a column in which I talked about my delight in the many names of kinds of apples, and mentioned Louise Bogan’s marvelous mid-century poem “The Crossed Apple.” Here’s yet another fine apple-name poem for my collection, by Susan Rothbard, who lives in New Jersey.

That New

At the market today, I look for Piñata
apples, their soft-blush-yellow. My husband
brought them home last week, made me guess at
the name of this new strain, held one in his hand
like a gift and laughed as I tried all
the names I knew: Gala, Fuji, Honey
Crisp—watched his face for clues—what to call
something new? It’s winter, only tawny
hues and frozen ground, but that apple bride
was sweet, and I want to bring it back to him,
that new. When he cut it, the star inside
held seeds of other stars, the way within
a life are all the lives you might live,
each unnamed, until you name it.


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright© 2012 bySusan Rothbard, “That New,” from The Cortland Review, (No. 58,2012). Poem reprinted by permission of Susan Rothbard and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2016 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.