Monday, June 27, 2011

More Lies - American Life in Poetry

I found this poem this morning in Ted Kooser's American Life in Poetry column. I love the way it moves so effortlessly and illustrates, as Elizabeth Bishop wrote about, "the mind in motion." This is the kind of poem that makes me want to write my own version. In life, I'm a terrible liar -- I am biologically made to tell the truth (well, most of the time) so lying in a poem sounds like a great deal of fun. I think it's my next assignment to myself; although I confess I do pretty badly with homework of any sort. I hope you enjoy - perhaps you have some lies to tell, too?

I'd heard the name of this poet before: Karin Gottshall, but this poem makes we want to get to know her work. This poem is taken from her recent collection, Crocus.

More Lies 

Sometimes I say I’m going to meet my sister at the café—
even though I have no sister—just because it’s such
a beautiful thing to say. I’ve always thought so, ever since

I read a novel in which two sisters were constantly meeting
in cafés. Today, for example, I walked alone
on the wet sidewalk, wearing my rain boots, expecting

someone might ask where I was headed. I bought
a steno pad and a watch battery, the store windows
fogged up. Rain in April is a kind of promise, and it costs

nothing. I carried a bag of books to the café and ordered
tea. I like a place that’s lit by lamps. I like a place
where you can hear people talk about small things,

like the difference between azure and cerulean,
and the price of tulips. It’s going down. I watched
someone who could be my sister walk in, shaking the rain

from her hair. I thought, even now florists are filling
their coolers with tulips, five dollars a bundle. All over
the city there are sisters. Any one of them could be mine.

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 ©2010 by Karin Gottshall, whose most recent book of poetry is Crocus, Fordham University Press, 2007. Poem reprinted from the New Ohio Review, No. 8, Fall 2010, by permission of Karin Gottshall and the publisher.


  1. What a great poem! Thanks for introducing me to a new poet.

  2. What a great poem! Thanks for sharing it, Susan :).

  3. Nice one. Also, I connect with the biological necessity of telling the truth! (And I feel free to lie in poems!)