January 18, 2012

Life becomes more complicated every day, and each of us can control only so much of what happens. As for the rest? Poet Thomas R. Smith of Wisconsin offers some practical advice. [Introduction by Ted Kooser.]


It’s like so many other things in life
to which you must say no or yes.
So you take your car to the new mechanic.
Sometimes the best thing to do is trust.

The package left with the disreputable-looking
clerk, the check gulped by the night deposit,
the envelope passed by dozens of strangers—
all show up at their intended destinations.

The theft that could have happened doesn’t.
Wind finally gets where it was going
through the snowy trees, and the river, even
when frozen, arrives at the right place.

And sometimes you sense how faithfully your life
is delivered, even though you can’t read the address.

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 © 2003 by Thomas R. Smith. Reprinted from “Waking before Dawn,” Thomas R. Smith, Red Dragonfly Press, 2007, by permission of the author and publisher. Introduction copyright © 2006 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.

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  1. Hi Kathy,

    That is really cool and stated beautifully. I love the photo too.


    Kathy M.

  2. What a great poem to find. Thanks for sharing. I'm also anxious to share with my mom who is very fond of poetry, and occasionally writes some.
    Have a wonderful day.

  3. Claire--Hope your mom likes it too. It's great to have someone to share poetry with.

  4. Hmmm, those words are ones I needed to hear! It's hard to have faith sometimes these days, and it's wonderful to be reminded that things quietly follow their prescribed path, even us.

  5. Nice poem. So often we worry about the things we can do nothing about but I like how this poem says most things including our life, will get where we need to anyhow. An optimistic poem but when you really look at things we find we worry too much. The hard part isn't knowing that but stopping it!

  6. Elizabeth--It's hard to have faith when things seem difficult, but that's when we need it most! This poem is a reminder to me to let go and let life unfold.

  7. Timaree--That's for sure--I know better than to worry and stress about things I can't control, but I can't always stop myself!