suddenly it's white —
the forest hillside awake
with indian pipes
this rainy summer
drape the cabin
that monstrous spider is
back between the dock boards
where did she winter?
© Jacqueline Jackson 2008
American life in poetry
Edited by Ted Kooser
I'd guess you've all seen a toddler hold something over the edge of a high-chair and then let it drop, just for the fun of it. Here's a lovely picture of a small child learning the laws of physics. The poet, Joelle Biele, lives in Maryland.
To Katharine: At Fourteen Months
All morning, you've studied the laws
of spoons, the rules of books, the dynamics
of the occasional plate, observed the principles
governing objects in motion and objects
at rest. To see if it will fall, and if it does,
how far, if it will rage like a lost penny
or ring like a Chinese gong — because
it doesn't have to — you lean from your chair
and hold your cup over the floor.
It curves in your hand, it weighs in your palm,
it arches like a wave, it is a dipper
full of stars, and you're the wind timing
the pull of the moon, you're the water
measuring the distance from which we fall.
Poem copyright © 2007 by Joelle Biele, whose most recent book of poetry is White Summer (Southern Illinois University Press, 2002). Poem reprinted from West Branch (Fall/Winter, 2007). 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.
Ted Kooser served as the U.S. poet laureate 2004-2006. For more information, go to www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.