American Life in Poetry
Judith Harris' "Gathering Leaves in Grade School"
Perhaps you made paper leaves when you were in grade school. I did. But are our memories as richly detailed as these by Washington, D. C C. poet, Judith...
Perhaps you made paper leaves when you were in grade school. I did. But are our memories as richly detailed as these by Washington, D.C. poet, Judith Harris?
TED KOOSER, U.S. Poet Laureate
They were smooth ovals,
and some the shade of potatoes —
some had been moth-eaten
or spotted, the maples
were starched, and crackled
We put them under tracing paper
and rubbed our crayons
over them, X-raying
the spread of their bones
and black, veined catacombs.
We colored them green and brown
and orange, and
cut them out along the edges,
labeling them deciduous
All day, in the stuffy air of the classroom,
with its cockeyed globe,
and nautical maps of ocean floors,
I watched those leaves
lost in their own worlds
flap on the pins of the bulletin boards:
without branches or roots,
or even a sky to hold on to.
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 by Seattle Arts & Lectures. Reprinted from The Universal Controversial Hive: poems, stories, & memoirs by students, Writers in the Schools, 2006, by permission of the publisher. Introduction copyright 2008 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 to 2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. "American Life in Poetry" appears Tuesdays in Northwest Life.
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