The Academy of American Poets is the largest membership-based nonprofit organization fostering an appreciation for contemporary poetry and supporting American poets. For over three generations, the Academy has connected millions of people to great poetry through programs such as National Poetry Month, the largest literary celebration in the world; Poets.org, the Academy’s popular website; American Poets, a biannual literary journal; and an annual series of poetry readings and special events. Since its founding, the Academy has awarded more money to poets than any other organization.
James Richardson is the author of During (Copper Canyon Press, 2016). His collection, By the Numbers (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), was a National Book Award finalist. He teaches at Princeton University and lives in Princeton, New Jersey.
The week after you died, Mom, you were in my checkout line, little old lady who met my stare with the fear, the yearning of a mortal chosen by a god, feeling herself change painfully cell by cell into a shadow, a laurel, you, a constellation.
Consider the palms. They are faces,
eyes closed, their five spread fingers
soft exclamations, sadness or surprise.
They have smile lines, sorrow lines, like faces.
Like faces, they are hard to read.
Somehow the palms, though they have held my life
piece by piece, seem young and pale.
So much has touched them,