American Life in Poetry

August 04. 2014 6:13PM

THE POEMS of Leo Dangel, who lives in South Dakota, are known for their clarity and artful understatement. Here he humbly honors the memory of one moment of deep intimacy between a mother and her son.

In Memoriam

In the early afternoon my mother

was doing the dishes. I climbed

onto the kitchen table, I suppose

to play, and fell asleep there.

I was drowsy and awake, though,

as she lifted me up, carried me

on her arms into the living room,

and placed me on the davenport,

but I pretended to be asleep

the whole time, enjoying the luxury —

I was too big for such a privilege

and just old enough to form

my only memory of her carrying me.

She’s still moving me to a softer place.


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 ©2013 by Leo Dangel from his most recent book of poems, Saving Singletrees, WSC Press, 2013. Poem reprinted by permission of Leo Dangel and the publisher.

Introduction copyright © 2014 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 2004-06.

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