June 15, 2011

Here is one of my favorite mother-daughter poems, by Marie Howe, who lives in New York City and who has a charming little girl. [Introduction by Ted Kooser.]

We stop at the dry cleaners and the grocery store
and the gas station and the green market and
Hurry up honey, I say, hurry,
as she runs along two or three steps behind me
her blue jacket unzipped and her socks rolled down.

Where do I want her to hurry to? To her grave?
To mine? Where one day she might stand all grown?
Today, when all the errands are finally done, I say to her,
Honey I'm sorry I keep saying Hurry—
you walk ahead of me. You be the mother.

And, Hurry up, she says, over her shoulder, looking
back at me, laughing. Hurry up now darling, she says,
hurry, hurry, taking the house keys from my hands.

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 ©2008 by Marie Howe, and reprinted from "When She Named Fire," ed., Andrea Hollander Budy, Autumn House Press, 2009. First published in "The Kingdom of the Ordinary" by Marie Howe, W.W. Norton, 2008. Used by permission of Marie Howe and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2009 by The Poetry Foundation.

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  1. What a great poem - TFS. I get the weekly newsletter from The Poetry Foundation, but I've noticed that you always have poems that aren't in that. Is there another newsletter that you get?

  2. Cheryl--I think it's the same newsletter, only I have been getting it for several years and I'm picking poems I've liked from the past. You can go to their website and browse through their archives if you'd like more poetry. I've printed PDF copies of quite a few poems over the years.

  3. Ah - I didn't think of the fact that the poems might be from an older newsletter. Thanks!