American Life in Poetry: Column 217

American literature is rich with poems about the passage of time, and the inevitability of change, and how these affect us. Here is a poem by Kevin Griffith, who lives in Ohio, in which the years accelerate by their passing.


I hold my two-year-old son

under his arms and start to twirl.

His feet sway away from me

and the day becomes a blur.

Everything I own is flying into space:

yard toys, sandbox, tools,

garage and house,

and, finally, the years of my life.

When we stop, my son is a grown man,

and I am very old. We stagger

back into each other’s arms

one last time, two lost friends

heavy with drink,

remembering the good old days.

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. Poem copyright (c)2006 by Kevin Griffith, whose most recent book of poetry is “Denmark, Kangaroo, Orange,” Pearl Editions, 2007. Poem reprinted from “Mid-American Review,” Vol. 26, no. 2, 2006, by permission of Kevin Griffith and the publisher.  Introduction copyright (c)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.