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American Life in Poetry: Column 237

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

An aubade is a poem about separation at dawn, but as you’ll see, this one by Dore Kiesselbach, who lives in Minnesota, is about the complex relationship between a son and his mother.


Aubade

“Take me with you”
my mother says
standing in her nightgown
as, home from college,
I prepare to leave
before dawn.
The desolation
she must face
was once my concern
but like a bobber
pulled beneath
the surface
by an inedible fish
she vanished
into the life
he offered her.
It stopped occurring
to me she might return.
“I’ll be back” I say
and then I go.

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 Dore Kiesselbach. Poem reprinted from Field, No. 79, Fall 2008, by permission of Dore Kiesselbach 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.