Weather Forecast


American Life in Poetry: Prairie Sure

By Ted Kooser

Former U.S. Poet Laureate

I've lived on the Great Plains all my life, and if I ever left this region for too long, I would dearly miss it. This lovely poem by Carol Light, who lives in Washington state, reminds me of that.

Prairie Sure

Would I miss the way a breeze dimples

the butter-colored curtains on Sunday mornings,

or nights gnashed by cicadas and thunderstorms?

The leaning gossip, the half-alive ripple

of sunflowers, sagging eternities of corn

and sorghum, September preaching yellow, yellow

in all directions, the windowsills swelling

with Mason jars, the blue sky bluest borne

through tinted glass above the milled grains?

The dust, the heat, distrusted, the screen door

slapping as the slat-backed porch swing sighs,

the hatch of houseflies, the furlongs of freight trains,

and how they sing this routine, so sure, so sure--

the rote grace of every tempered life?

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2011 by Carol Light, whose poems have been published in Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest and elsewhere. Poem reprinted from The Literary Bohemian, Issue 12, June 2011, by permission of Carol Light 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.