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American Life in Poetry: Two Gates

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American Life in Poetry: Two Gates
Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

The persons we are when we are young are probably buried somewhere within us when we've grown old. Denise Low, who was the Kansas poet laureate, takes a look at a younger version of herself in this telling poem.

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Two Gates

I look through glass and see a young woman

of twenty, washing dishes, and the window

turns into a painting. She is myself thirty years ago.

She holds the same blue bowls and brass teapot

I still own. I see her outline against lamplight;

she knows only her side of the pane. The porch

where I stand is empty. Sunlight fades. I hear

water run in the sink as she lowers her head,

blind to the future. She does not imagine I exist.

I step forward for a better look and she dissolves

into lumber and paint. A gate I passed through

to the next life loses shape. Once more I stand

squared into the present, among maple trees

and scissor-tailed birds, in a garden, almost

a mother to that faint, distant woman.

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 ©2010 by Dana Gioia, whose most recent book of poetry is Interrogations at Noon, Graywolf Press, 2001. Poem reprinted from Poetry, September, 2010, by permission of Dana Gioia and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2009 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.

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