One of the things I like about poetry is the marvelous efficiency of conveying meaning with a few carefully chosen words. This week’s selection from American Life in Poetry is a great example of this.

American Life in Poetry: Column 227

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Jane Hirshfield, a Californian and one of my favorite poets, writes beautiful image-centered poems of clarity and concision, which sometimes conclude with a sudden and surprising deepening. Here’s just one example.

Green-Striped Melons

They lie
under stars in a field.
They lie under rain in a field.
Under sun.

Some people
are like this as well—
like a painting
hidden beneath another painting.

An unexpected weight
the sign of their ripeness.