Amy Clark, “Our Friends in Minnesota” (poem)

I am not really into poetry – I prefer the substance, detail, and structure of prose fiction – but I have to say, the people at The Writer's Almanac (NPR) do an amazing job of finding poems that are readable, thought-provoking, and memorable. Here's the featured poem from Friday, May 28. This one took my breath away.

Our Friends in Minnesota
by Amy M. Clark

A woman (I would be her) says
to a man (he would be you),
"Let's go stay with Ted and Jan."

And what are Ted and Jan?
Ted and Jan are our friends
who live by the lake in Duluth.

They have beautiful teenage daughters.
Tanya, the older one, plays the cello.
Shelly captains the Irish dance team.

Ted and Jan have invited us up
to sail with them anytime we want.
Late June is good. In the evening,

we play cards on their screened deck.
Crickets. Cocktails. Tanya comes down
and drapes over the back of Ted's chair,

her arms around his shoulders. "Daddy,
I see you're losing again," she teases.
"Where's the love?" Ted says, and Jan

flourishes another full house. Her cheeks
are reddened from the day on the boat.
Later, we listen to Ted strum the guitar,

and we talk of food and people we know.
When Shelly isn't in by eleven, we hear
of the boy she's taken up with,

the one who threw up in the lilac bushes
outside their window. "He's a good kid,
though," Ted says. Jan arches one eyebrow,

as she's always done. But here's
Shelly now, chiming, "I'm home."
Is it too much to say I'm happy,

viewing from my deck chair, my arms
around my knees? Tucked in the attic bed,
you and I hold hands and giggle and talk

about Ted and Jan. I made them up,
and I made up you. The old boards
shift and settle, as dreamers do.

This poem can be found in "Our Friends in Minnesota" by Amy M. Clark, from Stray Home. © University of North Texas Press, 2010.

One comment

  • Len
    June 7, 2010 - 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Wow Gayle–that’s something. One of the beauties of poetry is its ability to distill life into tiny bits. This is a novel in 36 lines.

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