“I Left My Couch in Tatamagouche”: A Poem by James Tate

I desired lemonade—

It was hot and I had been walking for hours—

but after much wrestling,

pushing and shoving,

I simply could not get my couch

through the restaurant door.

Several customers and the owner

and the owner’s son

were kinder than they should have been,

but finally it was time to close

and I urged them to return to their homes,

their families needed them

(the question of who needs what

was hardly my field of expertise).

That night, while sleeping peacefully

outside the train station

on my little, green couch,

I met a giantess by the name of Anna Swan.

She knelt beside my couch

and stroked my brow with tenderness.

She was like a mother to me

for a few moments there under the night sky.

In the morning, I left my couch in Tatamagouche,

and that has made a big difference.


James Tate's poetry collection, Hello, I Love Everybody

From Hell, I Love Everybody by James Tate. Copyright © 2023 by James Tate. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

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