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American Life in Poetry: The Aunts

By Ted Kooser

I love poems that celebrate families, and here's a fine one by Joyce Sutphen of Minnesota, a poet who has written dozens of poems I'd like to publish in this column if there only were weeks enough for all of them.

The Aunts

I like it when they get together

and talk in voices that sound

like apple trees and grape vines,

and some of them wear hats

and go to Arizona in the winter,

and they all like to play cards.

They will always be the ones

who say "It is time to go now,"

even as we linger at the door,

or stand by the waiting cars, they

remember someone--an uncle we

never knew--and sigh, all

of them together, like wind

in the oak trees behind the farm

where they grew up--a place

I remember--especially

the hen house and the soft

clucking that filled the sunlit yard.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine.. Poem copyright 2010 by Joyce Sutphen from her most recent book of poetry, First Words, Red Dragonfly Press, 2010. he 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.