If you had to divide your favorite things between yourself and somebody else, what would you keep? Patricia Clark, a Michigan poet, has it figured out.
You can have the grackle whistling blackly
from the feeder as it tosses seed,
if I can have the red-tailed hawk perched
imperious as an eagle on the high branch.
You can have the brown shed, the field mice
hiding under the mower, the wasp’s nest on the door,
if I can have the house of the dead oak,
its hollowed center and feather-lined cave.
You can have the deck at midnight, the possum
vacuuming the yard in its white prowl,
if I can have the yard of wild dreaming, pesky
raccoons, and the roaming, occasional bear.
You can have the whole house, window to window,
roof to soffits to hardwood floors,
if I can have the screened porch at dawn,
the Milky Way, any comets in our yard.
American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2004 by Patricia Clark, whose forthcoming book of poetry is Sunday Rising, Michigan State University Press, 2013. Poem reprinted from She Walks into the Sea, Michigan State University Press, 2009, by permission of Patricia Clark and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2013 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.