Poetry Classroom: The Wait

Welcome to this month’s poetry classroom, with poet Daniel Bowman, author of A Plum Tree in Leatherstocking Country. We invite you to respond to the poems we’ll share here—their forms, images, sounds, meanings, surprises—ask questions of Dan and each other, and write your own poems along the way.

Walking The Wait

November sits in the cupboard
with the tinfoil and sandwich bags.
It’s after dusk.
I’m riding in the back seat,
down the back roads.

Some houses are dark.
Some have on light on
and I can’t help wondering
who is doing what in that light.

The snow makes me sleepy.
There’s a dream:
a woman with plum-black hair—
a bit of a local celebrity—
standing at the sink.
Without looking in the mirror,
she cups her hands,
fills them with warm water.
I am small.
I swan dive
from the tip of her nose
into her pool and open my eyes,
floating on the wait.

November straddles plum-black fields.
November waits for me,
its shadows like dreams in the dry stubble.

Photo by M Aze, Creative Commons, via Flickr. Poem by Daniel Bowman.


Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99 — Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In May we’re exploring the theme Swans, Swallows, Phoenix.

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  1. says

    By the way, this poem was interpreted visually in the book trailer. I’d love to hear any thoughts on the relationship between the poem and this visual representation/adaptation. Thanks!


  2. says

    this poem does something that the greatest poems do…

    suggest. And yet. One could deny what is being suggested. Which is so fun.

    I would love to know if you chose the words consciously or unconsciously.

    Riding, back seat, cups, straddles, stubble. Perfectly sensual choices.

    • says

      Thanks for that. On the scale between thinking and feeling, I almost always land waaaay down on the feeling side. I’m much more of an intuitive poet than a cerebral one. Also, the poem is an older one, and I was not as aware of my own processes and emerging concerns and style. All of which is to say, those would certainly have been unconscious choices. :)

  3. Marcy Terwilliger says

    I love the way the words move, old words we don’t often use like, the cupboard and tinfoil. Plum-Black fields and hair sound so romantic as if he’ll go back for her one day. I enjoyed this, it was lovely.

    • says

      Thanks for saying so! There is a certain kind of hazy, romantic movement in the poem, and some of that is achieved though the plum-black of the woman’s hair and of the fields. A merging into the natural, maybe.

  4. says

    I’m glad that you work at my husband’s alma mater, at the school my daughter will attend this fall. I’m glad you’re there helping hopeful writers dream dreams and play with words, images, ideas. I suspect she longs to move into a world of dreams, but struggles to step outside the concrete, literal world of her five senses…the world of worn gray carpet, toothpaste blobs at the bottom of the bathroom sink, and wilted pansies hanging limply over the edge of the flower box.

    • says

      Ann, thank you so much for joining the conversation here and adding some lovely words.

      (And I’m thrilled to learn that your daughter will be coming in the fall! Please feel free to email me any time if you’d like to chat or need anything at all in that regard.)

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