The Track the Whales Make


The Track the Whales Make

New and Selected Poems

Marjorie Saiser
Introduction by Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser Contemporary Poetry Series

200 pages


October 2021


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2021


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

October 2021


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

2022 High Plains Book Award Winner in Poetry

Marjorie Saiser’s strong, clear language makes the reader feel at home in her poems. Dealing with all the ways love goes right and wrong, this collection honors the challenges of holding firm to who we really are, as well as our connections to the natural world.

The Track the Whales Make includes poems from Saiser’s seven previous books, along with new ones. Her poetry originates from the everyday things we might overlook in the hurry of our daily routines, giving us a chance to stop and appreciate the little things, while wrapped in her comforting diction. Because the poems come from ordinary life, there is humor alongside happiness and sadness, the mixed bag we survive or create, day by day.

Author Bio

Marjorie Saiser is the author of seven previous books of poetry and coeditor of two anthologies. Her most recent books are Learning to Swim, The Woman in the Moon (Backwaters, 2018), and I Have Nothing to Say about Fire (Backwaters, 2016).


“Marjorie Saiser is a poet of ephemera, a poet who looks east at sunset to watch subtle light changing: ‘The glow is, and then is gone.’ And so is everyone and everything we love. Saiser tells this truth: ‘Every last thing is transitory.’ She looks at the difficult moments, at the precious fleeting moments: ‘That’s what it was like, though there is no record of it. / Let me be the record of it.’ When a whale’s flukes slip underwater, a trace shimmers for a fraction of a liquid second. That’s the moment of Saiser’s poetry, a poetry of generations of profound compassion, passed down.”—Peggy Shumaker, author of Cairn

“Marjorie Saiser’s poetry is wise and generous and altogether genuine. No poet in this country is better at writing about love, and, in a sense, all of her poems are in some way about love.”—Ted Kooser, U.S. poet laureate, 2004–2006

“Marjorie Saiser writes, ‘I wanted / the luminous coin, big sky over rooftops, / the celestial and the neighborhood.’ In these pages she finds both and gives them to us in an extraordinary volume of new and selected poems. With one poem, ‘Charmed by the Dirt Road,’ she explains generations of women. I move from delight to tears reading these brilliant, compassionate, and beautifully wrought poems. Saiser is a great poet.”—Hilda Raz, author of Letter from a Place I’ve Never Been: New and Collected Poems, 1986–2020

Table of Contents

Introduction by Ted Kooser
I Could Taste It: New Poems
The Shirt I Would Have Bought You
Sometimes I Remember to Watch
When You Write the Story
We Wait for the Trogon
So Bad I Could Taste It
I Had a Marriage in Those Days
What I Shouted and He Shouted
Charmed by the Dirt Road
To the Cattle in the Dream
The Moon Is a Swan
This Is How I Bow Down in Homage
Kindness Scraped Up the Money
It’s a Small Breath
Not Enough Space in Storage Device
Hope Springs
From Learning to Swim, 2019
Weren’t We Beautiful
I Save My Love
Every Last Thing Is Transitory
Plastic Bag on the Lawn
Edith Porath Nelsen, You Signed Your Quilt
After the Divorce the Soccer Game
What She Taught Me
To the Author I’m Reading at Night
This Year I Did Not
This Is the Photo of My Father Before
He Taught Me to Drive
I Pretend I Can Remember
The One with Violets in Her Lap
For the Record
The Citrus Thief
Insomnia Is a Streetlight
From The Woman in the Moon, 2018
The Nobody Bird
My Love With His Saw Has Taken the Cedar Down
When Life Seems a To-Do List
Each Wrong Choice Was a Horse I Saddled
What I Think My Real Self Likes
My Mother the Child
What He Needed
Final Shirt
Despair Woke Me
Ah, Charles, If You Could Have
What Did You Think Love Would Be?
About That Smart Thinly-Veiled Stuff
My Daughter Tells Me She Loves Me
Green Ash
My Notes in Margins
From I Have Nothing to Say about Fire, 2016
The Track the Whales Make
She Gives Me the Watch Off Her Arm
The Story, Part of It
How I Left You
Bad News, Good News
Thanksgiving for Two
We Disagree
Let Me Think of the Frost That Will Crack Our Bones
Draw What Is There
Those Pieces We Carry
What I Think My Father Loved
It Does Not Have to Be Worth the Dying
Last Day of Kindergarten
For My Daughter
From Losing the Ring in the River, 2013
Clara Says I Do
Clara Loses the Ring
When I Have Hurt Him as Much as I Can
Potato Soup
I Was New and Shiny
Playing My Cards
Let Me Be the First Snake of Spring
To the Moon in the Morning
Note to My Father After All These Years
I Leaned in Close
Take, Eat; This Is My Body
You and I, the Cranes, the River
From Beside You at the Stoplight, 2010
Pulling Up Beside My Husband at the Stoplight
Weekends, Sleeping In
Even the Alphabet
On the Road
I Didn’t Know I Loved
She Was Perhaps Dead
For My Body
I Want to Be a Man
You Can’t Say I
You Wonder Why We Don’t Get Along
Her Kid Brother Ran Beside the Car
We Visit the Homestead
One-Finger Wave
From Lost in Seward County, 2001
The Sisters Play Canasta in a Snowstorm
Overheard at the Cafe
As Long as Someone Remembers
Summer, Striking
You Gave Me a Typewriter
Lying on the Driveway, Studying Stars
Holed Up in Valentine, Nebraska
Prairie Pretends to Be Mild
The Muse Is a Little Girl
Night Flight
From Bones of a Very Fine Hand, 1999
The Green Coat
Keeping My Mother Warm
Saying Yes on the Road
Perfume Counter, Dillard’s
The World Was Not Enough
Loving Her in the Mountains
I Let My Daughter Down
Cutting My Hair
Washing the Walls
Taking the Baby to the Marsh
Storm at Night
I Want to Create
The Last Thing He Said


2022 High Plains Book Award Winner in Poetry

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