American Life in Poetry: Column 616

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BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Marge Saiser is a Nebraska poet about whose work I have said that no contemporary poet is better at writing about love. Here’s a love poem from her new book, I Have Nothing to Say about Fire, from Backwaters Press.

The Print the Whales Make

You and I on the boat notice
the print the whales leave,
the  huge ring their diving draws
for a time on the surface.
Is it like that when we
lose one another? Don’t
know, can’t. But
I want to believe
when we can no longer
walk across a room
for a hug, can no longer
step into the arms of the other,
there will be this:
some trace that stays
while the great body
remains below out of sight,
dark mammoth shadow
flick of flipper
body of delight
diving deep.


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 ©2016 by Marjorie Saiser, “The Print the Whales Make,” from I Have Nothing to Say about Fire, (Backwaters Press, 2016). Poem reprinted by permission of Marjorie Saiser 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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