My friends are dead who were
the arches the pillars of my life
the structural relief when
the world gave none.
My friends who knew me as I knew them
their bodies folded into the ground or burnt to ash.
If I got on my knees
might I lift my life as a turtle carries her home?
Who if I cried out would hear me?
My friends—with whom I might have spoken of this—are gone.
Copyright © 2022 by Marie Howe. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 22, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.
The porch swing hangs fixed in a morning sun that bleaches its gray slats, its flowered cushion whose flowers have faded, like those of summer, and a small brown spider has hung out her web on a line between porch post and chain so that no one may swing without breaking it. She is saying it’s time that the swinging were done with, time that the creaking and pinging and popping that sang through the ceiling were past, time now for the soft vibrations of moths, the wasp tapping each board for an entrance, the cool dewdrops to brush from her work every morning, one world at a time.
From Flying at Night: Poems 1965-1985, by Ted Kooser, © 2005. Reprinted with permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press.