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American Life in Poetry: Wind

A large white umbrella blown into the street, and an aproned waiter rushing to the rescue. A poem need not have a big subject, but what's there does need to add up to more than the surface details. Notice the way this poem by Mike White of Utah m...

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A large white umbrella blown into the street, and an aproned waiter rushing to the rescue. A poem need not have a big subject, but what's there does need to add up to more than the surface details. Notice the way this poem by Mike White of Utah moves beyond realistic description into another, deeper realm of suggestion.

Not a remarkable wind.

So when the bistro's patio umbrella

blew suddenly free and pitched

into the middle of the road,

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it put a stop to the afternoon.

Something white and amazing

was blocking the way.

A waiter in a clean apron

appeared, not quite

certain, shielding his eyes, wary

of our rumbling engines.

He knelt in the hot road,

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making two figures in white, one

leaning over the sprawled,

broken shape of the other,

creaturely, great-winged,

and now so carefully gathered in.

Poem copyright 2006 by Mike White. Reprinted from West Branch, No. 58, Spring/Summer 2006, with 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. Introduction copyright 2006 by the Poetry Foundation.

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