Poem at American Life in Poetry!

| Civilians

I love Ted Kooser’s weekly newspaper column American Life in Poetry. Ted was my teacher at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and he remains an important mentor. Ted never fails to remind me that it’s the work that matters, that each day we apprentice ourselves to language, dedicating ourselves to the craft of poetry and to the insights that poems can offer.

It’s always a tremendous honor to have one of my poems featured in American Life in Poetry. This time, it’s “Pledge,” a poem that I wrote early on in 2020, the year of COVID-19, when my husband and I were first sheltering at home. I remember feeling terribly lost. I could see the grief that was coming to the country, and I knew that the things I’d previously believed in wouldn’t save us. What do I believe in now, I asked myself. The answer was: the love that still exists in this house.

And that was how I wrote “Pledge,” a poem about pledging one’s allegiance to “the little nation” of marriage. In an era of sadness and loss, perhaps this is what we can count on: the personal relationships we form with those closest to us, the intimacy we create, even the disagreements between people who respect one another, who see one another as human beings. Beyond that, I’m not sure what we can see as solid and worthy of belief. You can read the whole poem here.