Once a week, on Mondays, a poem arrives in my inbox. This is because a few years ago I signed up to receive the email version of American Life in Poetry, a column that shows up in newspapers around the country. More often than not, they are wonderful poems. The organization was started by Ted Kooser, whose poems I also love, who was the U.S. POET LAUREATE from 2004-2006.


Ted Kooser writes about this week’s poem in American Life in Poetry:

Here’s an observant and thoughtful poem by Lisel Mueller about the way we’ve assigned human characteristics to the inanimate things about us. Mueller lives in Illinois and is one of our most distinguished poets.




What happened is, we grew lonely

living among the things, clock with a face

so we gave the clock a face,

the chair a back,

the table four stout legs

which will never suffer fatigue.

We fitted our shoes with tongues

as smooth as our own

and hung tongues inside bells

so we could listen

to their emotional language,

and because we loved graceful profiles

the pitcher received a lip,

the bottle a long, slender neck.

Even what was beyond us cave mouth

was recast in our image;

we gave the country a heart,

the storm an eye,

the cave a mouth

so we could pass into safety.


If you’d like to receive a poem every week from American Life in Poetry go here to sign up. In the meantime, is it just me, or do you also find this poem incredibly touching?


My website.


Pin It on Pinterest


Share This

Share this post with your friends!