The Exam

By Joyce Sutphen b. 1949 Joyce Sutphen
It is mid-October. The trees are in
their autumnal glory (red, yellow-green,

orange) outside the classroom where students
take the mid-term, sniffling softly as if

identifying lines from Blake or Keats
was such sweet sorrow, summoned up in words

they never saw before. I am thinking
of my parents, of the six decades they’ve

been together, of the thirty thousand
meals they’ve eaten in the kitchen, of the

more than twenty thousand nights they’ve slept
under the same roof. I am wondering

who could have fashioned the test that would have
predicted this success? Who could have known?

Poem copyright ©2010 by Joyce Sutphen, whose most recent book of poetry is First Words, Red Dragonfly Press, 2010. Poem reprinted by permission of Joyce Sutphen.

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Poet Joyce Sutphen b. 1949

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Nature, Fall, Landscapes & Pastorals, Living, Marriage & Companionship

 Joyce  Sutphen

Biography

Joyce Sutphen grew up on a farm in Minnesota. She earned a PhD in Renaissance drama from the University of Minnesota, and has taught British literature and creative writing at Gustavus Adolphus College in Saint Peter, Minnesota. Her first collection of poems, Straight Out of View (1995), won the Barnard Women’s Poets Prize. Subsequent collections include Coming Back to the Body (2000), a Minnesota Book Award finalist, Naming the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Nature, Fall, Landscapes & Pastorals, Living, Marriage & Companionship

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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