The World As It Is

November 16, 2016

Photo courtesy Patrick Fore

Introduction by Ted Kooser: It is enough for me as a reader that a poem take from life a single moment and hold it up for me to look at. There need not be anything sensational or unusual or peculiar about that moment, but somehow, by directing my attention to it, our attention to it, the poet bathes it in the light of the remarkable. Here is a poem like this by Carolyn Miller, who lives in San Francisco.

The World as It is

No ladders, no descending angels, no voice
out of the whirlwind, no rending
of the veil, or chariot in the sky—only
water rising and falling in breathing springs
and seeping up through limestone, aquifers filling
and flowing over, russet stands of prairie grass
and dark pupils of black-eyed Susans. Only
the fixed and wandering stars: Orion rising sideways,
Jupiter traversing the southwest like a great firefly,
Venus trembling and faceted in the west—and the moon,
appearing suddenly over your shoulder, brimming
and ovoid, ripe with light, lifting slowly, deliberately,
wobbling slightly, while far below, the faithful sea
rises up and follows.

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 Carolyn Miller, from her most recent book of poems, “Light, Moving,” Sixteen Rivers Press, 2009. Reprinted by permission of Carolyn Miller and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2010 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. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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  1. I'm sorry I have not been over to visit and comment on your blog for awhile. I'm in a "challenged" place, last week's events shook me up and I have some house problems that are taking my time and serenity. And then there is the class (French) with a lot of work and commuting time.
    Somehow, though, creating art ,and visions of kindness and love haven't left me. And as this poem so beautifully reminds me, nature, the angel energy found in nature......I need to read your blog more than ever and will go back to the previous entries...
    I hope you are feeling happy and content...Your weather must be getting cooler now...

  2. Rita--I'm so sorry things have been rough for you lately. I think we're all a little shell shocked. Here's hoping things smooth out for you soon. I do hope my blog posts can help brighten your day.

    Our weather has been wonderful! We've had several weeks in a row of drier air and cooler temperatures. I'm rejoicing!