American Life in Poetry: Geology

U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser is writing a series of columns that highlights poetry and its importance in everyday life. From time to time we’ll share the reprinted columns here, and provide you a chance to add your comments. The latest offering from Colorado poet Bob King examines the geology of love. Sometimes metaphor in poetry can become so cliched and abstract that it takes away from the intended effect, but a simple comparison fleshed out with careful words can extract a new understanding of one of the most mysterious and often elusive things. I thought this would be appropriate to share with you on Valentine’s Day as many of us try to accurately answer the age old question… What is this thing called love?

American Life in Poetry: Column 046


We constantly compare one thing with another, or attempt to, saying, “Well, you know, love is like…it’s like…well, YOU know what it’s like.” Here Bob King, who lives in Colorado, takes an original approach and compares love to the formation of rocks.


I know the origin of rocks, settling
out of water, hatching crystals
from fire, put under pressure
in various designs I gathered
pretty, picnic after picnic.

And I know about love, a little,
igneous lust, the slow affections
of the sedimentary, the pressure
on earth out of sight to rise up
into material, something solid
you can hold, a whole mountain,
for example, or a loose collection
of pebbles you forgot you were keeping.

Reprinted from the Marlboro Review, Issue 16, 2005, by permission of the author. Copyright (c) 2005 by Robert King, whose prose book, “Stepping Twice Into the River: Following Dakota Waters,” appeared in 2005 from The University Press of Colorado. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

One Response

  1. Nice poemI have to confess, I
    Nice poem

    I have to confess, I was skeptical of a poem comparing love to rock formations, but I should have known the Poet Laureate wouldn’t let us down.

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