American Life in Poetry: Column 135  

What motivates us to keep moving forward through
our lives, despite all the effort required to do
so? Here, North Carolina poet Ruth Moose attributes
human characteristics to an animal to speculate

upon what that force might be.

The Crossing

The snail at the edge of the road
inches forward, a trim gray finger
of a fellow in pinstripe suit.
He's burdened by his house
that has to follow
where he goes. Every inch,
he pulls together
all he is,
all he owns,
all he was given.

The road is wide
but he is called
by something
that knows him
on the other side.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by
The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org),

publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported
by the Department of English at the University of
Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 2004 by Ruth
Moose, whose most recent book of poetry is "The
Sleepwalker," Main Street Rag, 2007. Reprinted from

"75 Poems on Retirement," edited by Robin Chapman
and Judith Strasser, published by University of Iowa
Press, 2007, by permission of the author and publisher.
Introduction copyright (c) 2007 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.