American Life in Poetry: Column 172

I don't often talk about poetic forms in this column, thinking that most
of my readers aren't
interested in how the clock works and would rather
be given the time. But the following poem by Veronica Patterson
of Colorado has a subtitle
referring to a form, the senryu, and I thought
it might be helpful to mention that the senryu is a Japanese form similar
to haiku but dealing
with people rather than nature. There; enough said.
Now you can forget the form and enjoy the poem, which is a beautiful
sketch of a marriage.

Marry Me
a senryu sequence

when I come late to bed
I move your leg flung over my side--
that warm gate

nights you're not here
I inch toward the middle

of this boat, balancing
when I turn over in sleep
you turn, I turn, you turn,
I turn, you
some nights you tug the edge

of my pillow under your cheek,

look in my dream

pulling the white sheet
over your bare shoulder
I marry you again

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 (c) 2000 by
Veronica Patterson, whose most recent book of poetry
is "This Is the Strange Part," Pudding House
Publications, 2002. Poem reprinted from "Swan,

What Shores?" New York University Press, 2000,
by permission of Veronica Patterson and New York
University Press. Introduction copyright (c) 2008
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. ******************************