News & Views » Columns

Art Bar

comment

American Life in Poetry

by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate

 

In this fascinating poem by the California poet Jane Hirshfield, the speaker discovers that through paying attention to an event she has become part of it, has indeed become inseparable from the event and its implications. This is more than an act of empathy. It speaks, in my reading of it, to the perception of an order into which all creatures and events are fitted, and are essential.

 

The Woodpecker Keeps Returning

The woodpecker keeps returning

to drill the house wall.

Put a pie plate over one place, he chooses another.

There is nothing good to eat there:

he has found in the house

a resonant billboard to post his intentions, his voluble strength as provider.

But where is the female he drums for? Where?

I ask this, who am myself the ruined siding, the handsome red-capped bird, the missing mate.

 

Poem © 2005 by Jane Hirshfield from her forthcoming book After (HarperCollins, 2006), and reprinted by permission of the author. This weekly column is supported by the Poetry Foundation, the Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

Send comments to letters@metrotimes.com

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.