Monday, January 10, 2011

A Monday Poem by Lowell Jaeger: "let us now praise"

the old woman whose old country soups
steamed under gas flames
in the dim luncheonette
near the low-rent office building where in the old days
we hung our hats, sat at our desks
until some un-nameable hunger
drove us to her. Not so much for lunch
but more for the way she touched our hands,
patted our wrists as if we were born for her
to serve us. As if those knuckles, swollen
into arthritic fists years after the Nazis
had starved her homeland, above all
longed to scoop and spill broad spoons
of steamy potatoes, droopy cabbage, juicy chunks
of fat. In exchange for mere pocketfuls of change
she could boil such luxuries loose from bones. And fill
our cups with her glad battered face,
so that when we left her we strode
back into our workday brimming
with the lasting taste of compassion.
With hope that this sad old world
might dish something good for us all.

*     *     *

Lowell Jaeger teaches creative writing at Flathead Valley Community College (Kalispell, Montana) where he is also founding editor of Many Voices Press. He is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Montana Arts Council, author of three previous books of poems, and editor of New Poets of the American West, an anthology of Western poets. He lives with his family in Yellow Bay, Montana, on Flathead Lake. "let us now praise" is from Jaeger's latest collection, WE.

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