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If you had to divide your favorite things between yourself and somebody else, what would you keep? Patricia Clark, a Michigan poet, has it figured out.


You can have the grackle whistling blackly

from the feeder as it tosses seed,

if I can have the red-tailed hawk perched

imperious as an eagle on the high branch.

You can have the brown shed, the field mice

hiding under the mower, the wasp’s nest on the door,

if I can have the house of the dead oak,

its hollowed center and feather-lined cave.

You can have the deck at midnight, the possum

vacuuming the yard in its white prowl,

if I can have the yard of wild dreaming, pesky

raccoons, and the roaming, occasional bear.

You can have the whole house, window to window,

roof to soffits to hardwood floors,

if I can have the screened porch at dawn,

the Milky Way, any comets in our yard.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine.