American Life in Poetry: Column 404

The first winter my wife and I lived in the country, I brought a wild juniper tree in from our pasture and prepared to decorate it for Christmas. As it began to warm up, it started to smell as if a coyote, in fact a number of coyotes, had stopped to mark it, and it was soon banished to the yard. Jeffrey Harrison, a poet who lives in Massachusetts, had a much better experience with nature.

Nest

It wasn’t until we got the Christmas tree
into the house and up on the stand
that our daughter discovered a small bird’s nest
tucked among its needled branches.

Amazing, that the nest had made it
all the way from Nova Scotia on a truck
mashed together with hundreds of other trees
without being dislodged or crushed.
And now it made the tree feel wilder,
a balsam fir growing in our living room,
as though at any moment a bird might flutter
through the house and return to the nest.

And yet, because we’d brought the tree indoors,
we’d turned the nest into the first ornament.
So we wound the tree with strings of lights,
draped it with strands of red beads,

and added the other ornaments, then dropped
two small brass bells into the nest, like eggs
containing music, and hung a painted goldfinch
from the branch above, as if to keep them warm.

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 ©2011 by Jeffrey Harrison, whose most recent book of poems is Incomplete Knowledge, Four Way Books, 2006. Reprinted from upstreet, No. 8, June 2012, by permission of Jeffrey Harrison and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2012 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.

******************************

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ted Kooser Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser was born in Ames, Iowa in 1939. He received his B.A. from Iowa State and his M.A. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is the author of ten collections of poetry, including Delights & Shadows. His honors include two NEA fellowships in poetry, a Pushcart Prize, the Stanley Kunitz Prize from Columbia, and a Merit Award from the Nebraska Arts Council. In the fall of 2004, Kooser was appointed the Library of Congress's thirteenth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry. He is a visiting professor in the English department of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He lives on an acreage near the village of Garland, NE, with his wife Kathleen Rutledge, the editor of the Lincoln Journal Star.

This entry was posted in News Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.
  • Find Us on Facebook
  • Follow Us on Twitter
  • Follow us on Pinterest
  • Watch Us on YouTube
  • Follow us on Tumblr
  •