Nebraska's Ted Kooser, U.S. poet laureate from 2004 to 2006, offers “American Life in Poetry,” a column on contemporary poetry.
If you've followed this column through a good part of the seven years we've been publishing it, you know how hooked I am on poems that take a close look at the ordinary world. Here's a fine poem by Eamon Grennan, who lives in New York, about bees caught up against a closed window.
Up Against It
It's the way they cannot understand the window
they buzz and buzz against, the bees that take
a wrong turn at my door and end up thus
in a drift at first of almost idle curiosity,
cruising the room until they find themselves
smack up against it and they cannot fathom how
the air has hardened and the world they know
with their eyes keeps out of reach as, stuck there
with all they want just in front of them, they must
fling their bodies against the one unalterable law
of things—this fact of glass—and can only go on
making the sound that tethers their electric
fury to what's impossible, feeling the sting in it.
Poem copyright ©2010 by Eamon Grennan from his most recent book of poems, “Out of Sight: New & Selected Poems,” Graywolf Press, 2010. Poem reprinted by permission of Eamon Grennan and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2012 by The Poetry Foundation.