The Yellow Bowl

June 19, 2013

The great American poet William Carlos Williams taught us that if a poem can capture a moment in life, and bathe it in the light of the poet’s close attention, and make it feel fresh and new, that’s enough, that’s adequate, that’s good.  Here is a poem like that by Rachel Contreni Flynn, who lives in Illinois. [Introduction by Ted Kooser.]

The Yellow Bowl

If light pours like water
into the kitchen where I sway
with my tired children,

if the rug beneath us
is woven with tough flowers,
and the yellow bowl on the table

rests with the sweet heft
of fruit, the sun-warmed plums,
if my body curves over the babies,

and if I am singing,
then loneliness has lost its shape,
and this quiet is only quiet.

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 ©2009 by Rachel Contreni Flynn, whose newest book, Tongue, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. Reprinted fromHaywire, Bright Hill Press, 2009, by permission of Rachel Contreni Flynn and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2013 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. I like what the poet said and I like the poem. I think I might be a tad better at painting the idea than writing a poem though! Just a tad, mind you!

  2. Timaree--I like that you've taken the idea and emotion of the poem and can see yourself painting it! Somehow, the poem resonates with me on an emotional level.