For Emily Wilson

By A. R. Ammons 1926–2001
Such a long time as the wave idling gathers
lofts and presses forward into the curvature
of the height before one realizes that the

tension completes itself with a fall through air,
disorganization the prelude to the meandering
of another gather and hurl, the necessary:

ah, what can one make to absorb the astonishment:
you should have seen me the merchant at market
this morning: the people ogled me with severe

goggles: maids, buying in manners and measures
beyond themselves, stared into my goods and
then grew horror-eyed: wives still as distant

from day as a carrot from dinner took the
misconnection sagely, a usual patience:
peashells, I said, long silky peashells: cobs,

I said, long cobs: husks and shucks, I said:
one concerned person pointed out that my whole
economy was wrong; yes, I said, but I have

nothing else to sell: and I said to her, won't
you appreciate the silky beds where seeds
have lain: she had not come to that: and

how about this residence all the grains have
left: won't you buy it and think about it:
not for dinner, she said: rinds, I cried,

rinds and peelings: there was some interest
in those, as for a marmalade, but no one willing,
finally, to do the preparations: absurd, one

woman shouted, and then I grew serious: can you
do with that: but she was off before we fully
met: you should have seen me the merchant at

market this morning: will bankruptcy make a
go of it: will the leavings be left only: the
wave turns over and does not rise again, that wave.

Source: Poetry (June 2008).


This poem originally appeared in the June 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2008
 A. R. Ammons


A. R. Ammons was born in rural North Carolina, and his experiences growing up on a cotton and tobacco farm during the Great Depression inspired a great deal of the poet's work. Ammons wrote his first poems while serving aboard a Navy destroyer during World War II. After the war, he completed his education, then held a variety of jobs before beginning his teaching career at Cornell University in 1964. Ammons once told the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Money & Economics

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