American Life in Poetry: Column 373

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

The paintings of Georgia O’Keefe taught us a lot about bones in the desert, but there’s more to learn, and more to think our way into. Here’s a fine poem by Jillena Rose, who lives in Michigan.

Taos
Bones are easier to find than flowers
in the desert, so I paint these:
Fine white skulls of cows and horses.
When I lie flat under the stars
in the back of the car, coyotes howling
in the scrub pines, easy to feel how those bones
are so much like mine: Here is my pelvis,
like the pelvis I found today
bleached by the sun and the sand. Same
hole where the hip would go, same

white curve of bone beneath my flesh

same cradle of life, silent and still in me.
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 ©2011 by Jillena Rose. Poem reprinted from Third Wednesday, Volume 3, Issue 1, Winter 2011, by permission of Jillena Rose and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2012 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.