American Life in Poetry: Column 237

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.




“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 (, 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.