American Life in Poetry: Column 240

We haven’t shown you many poems in which the poet enters another person and speaks through him or her, but it is, of course, an effective and respected way of writing. Here Philip Memmer of Deansboro, N.Y., enters the persona of a young woman having an unpleasant experience with a blind date.

The Paleontologist’s Blind Date

You have such lovely bones, he says,

holding my face in his hands,


and although I can almost feel

the stone and the sand


sifting away, his fingers

like the softest of brushes,


I realize after this touch

he would know me


years from now, even

in the dark, even


without my skin.

Thank you, I smile—


then I close the door

and never call him again.

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 Philip Memmer, whose most recent book of poetry is Lucifer: A Hagiography, Lost Horse Press, 2009. Poem reprinted from Threat of Pleasure,” Word Press, 2008, by permission of Philip Memmer 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.