American Life in‚ÄąPoetry

Published on Tue, Nov 23, 2010
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Because I’m a senior citizen I’m easily attracted by poems about my brothers and sisters meandering into their golden years. Here’s a poem by Edward Hirsch, who lives in New York, that offers our younger readers a look at what’s to come.
 

Early Sunday Morning

I used to mock my father and his chums
for getting up early on Sunday morning
and drinking coffee at a local spot
but now I’m one of those chumps.

No one cares about my old humiliations
but they go on dragging through my sleep
like a string of empty tin cans rattling
behind an abandoned car.

It’s like this: just when you think
you have forgotten that red-haired girl
who left you stranded in a parking lot
forty years ago, you wake up

early enough to see her disappearing
around the corner of your dream
on someone else’s motorcycle
roaring onto the highway at sunrise.

And so now I’m sitting in a dimly lit
café full of early morning risers
where the windows are covered with soot
and the coffee is warm and bitter.

 

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 ©2009 by Edward Hirsch from his most recent book of poetry, The Living Fire, Knopf, 2010. First printed in the Northwest Review, Vol. 47, no. 7, 2009, and reprinted by permission of Edward Hirsch and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2010 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. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.