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American Life in Poetry: Column 227

 BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE


Jane Hirshfield, a Californian and one of my favorite poets, writes beautiful image-centered poems of clarity and concision, which sometimes conclude with a sudden and surprising deepening. Here's just one example.



Green-Striped Melons

They lie 
under stars in a field. 
They lie under rain in a field. 
Under sun. 

Some people 
are like this as well— 
like a painting 
hidden beneath another painting. 

An unexpected weight 
the sign of their ripeness. 

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 ©2008 by Jane Hirshfield, whose most recent book of poems is "After," Harper Collins, 2006. Poem reprinted from "Alaska Quarterly," Vol. 25, nos. 3 & 4, Fall & Winter, 2008, by permission of Jane Hirshfield and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2009 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.