American Life Poetry

Published on Thu, Apr 30, 2009 by Ted KooserFormer U.S. Poet Laureate

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American Life Poetry

By Ted Kooser
Former U.S. Poet Laureate

Sometimes I wonder at my wife's forbearance. She's heard me tell the same stories dozens of times, and she still politely laughs when she should. Here's a poem by Susan Browne, of California, that treats an oft-told story with great tenderness.

On Our Eleventh Anniversary

You're telling that story again about your
when you were five years old and rode
your blue bicycle
from Copenhagen to Espergaerde, and it
was night
and snowing by the time you arrived,

and your grandparents were so relieved
to see you,
because all day no one knew where you

you had vanished. We sit at our patio
table under a faded green
umbrella, drinking wine in California's
blue autumn,

red stars of roses along the fence,
trellising over the roof
of our ramshackle garage. Too soon the
wine glasses will be empty,

our stories told, the house covered with
pine needles the wind
has shaken from the trees. Other people
will live here.

We will vanish like children who traveled
far in the dark,
stars of snow in their hair, riding to
enchanted Espergaerde.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c)2007 by Susan Browne, whose most recent book of poems is "Buddha's Dogs," Four Way Books, 2004.