Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Sunday Poem: Minnesotan David Bengtson

American Life in Poetry: Column 042

Here is a poem by David Bengtson, a Minnesotan, about the simple pleasure of walking through deep snow to the mailbox to see what's arrived. But, of course, the pleasure is not only in picking up the mail with its surprises, but in the complete experience—being fully alive to the clean cold air and the sound of the wind around the mailbox door.

What Calls Us

In winter, it is what calls us
from seclusion, through endless snow
to the end of a long driveway
where, we hope, it waits—
this letter, this package, this
singing of wind around an opened door.

Reprinted from "What Calls Us," a Dacotah Territory Chapbook, 2003, by permission of the author, whose most recent book is “Broken Lines: Prose Poems,” from Juniper Press, St. Paul, MN, 2003. Poem copyright © 2003 by David Bengtson. 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.

Here is an additional piece by David Bengtson for your Sunday morning pleasure.

Morning Coffee

He stares at the pages of newspaper scattered across the kitchen table. He can't focus on any of the words, everthing a gray blur. He picks up his coffee cup, sips a bit, then puts the cup down precisely on the wet ring seeping through the newsprint. Again and again he does this, each time pressing harder and twisting the cup a little until a round wafer of paper can be lifted from the page. As he carefully peels it away, he reads what's printed inside the ring. Something about a $100 million NASA project to see if life exists elsewhere, about a few scientists who will begin listening tomorrow for signals from whoever might be out there. He reads, "Many stars emit radio waves, and if human ears were tuned to the right frequency, the sky would roar as much as it glows."

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