By David Baker b. 1954 David Baker
A short ride in the van, then the eight of us   
there in the heat—white shirtsleeves sticking,   
the women’s gloves off—fanning our faces.   
   The workers had set up a big blue tent   
       to help us at graveside tolerate the sun,   
    which was brutal all afternoon as if   
stationed above us, though it moved limb   
   to limb through two huge, covering elms.   

      The long processional of neighbors, friends,   
   the town’s elderly, her beauty-shop patrons,   
her club’s notables. . . The world is full of   
   prayers arrived at from afterwards, he said.   

      Look up through the trees—the hands, the leaves   
curled as in self-control or quietly hurting,   
or now open, flat-palmed, many-fine-veined,   
    and whether from heat or sadness, waving.

Poem copyright © 2004 by David Baker, whose most recent book of poetry is Midwest Eclogue, W. W. Norton, 2006. Reprinted from Virginia Quarterly Review, Winter, 2004, by permission of David Baker.

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Poet David Baker b. 1954

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Living, Death, Sorrow & Grieving

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 David  Baker


Though he is known primarily as a poet of the Midwest, David Baker was born in Bangor, Maine in 1954. He spent his childhood in Missouri and attended Central Missouri State University before receiving his PhD from the University of Utah. He has won fellowships and awards from the Poetry Society of America, the Pushcart Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. Currently a Professor of English . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Death, Sorrow & Grieving

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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