He was a big man, says the size of his shoes
on a pile of broken dishes by the house;
a tall man too, says the length of the bed
in an upstairs room; and a good, God-fearing man,
says the Bible with a broken back
on the floor below the window, dusty with sun;
but not a man for farming, say the fields
cluttered with boulders and the leaky barn.
A woman lived with him, says the bedroom wall
papered with lilacs and the kitchen shelves
covered with oilcloth, and they had a child,
says the sandbox made from a tractor tire.
Money was scarce, say the jars of plum preserves
and canned tomatoes sealed in the cellar hole.
And the winters cold, say the rags in the window frames.
It was lonely here, says the narrow country road.
Something went wrong, says the empty house
in the weed-choked yard. Stones in the fields
say he was not a farmer; the still-sealed jars
in the cellar say she left in a nervous haste.
And the child? Its toys are strewn in the yard
like branches after a storm- a rubber cow,
a rusty tractor with a broken plow,
a doll in overalls. Something went wrong, they say.
Kooser is a master. After reading his book Delights and Shadows cover to cover at least three times, I am thoroughly convinced that he is one of the most distinguished and gifted authors of our time, as well as my favorite. The intense yet simplistic ways in which Kooser captures his subjects leaves me absolutely speechless with wonder at how one person can be supplied with such an immense amount of talent. I am truly awed and inspired by Kooser's work.
If I had to choose a single poem as my 'favorite, ' I would definitely say 'A Spiral Notebook' comes out on top. As a writer myself, this poem deeply and truly speaks to me, as well as many of my peers, in an almost indescribable fashion. The beauty with which Kooser describes the notebook and the feelings of the person handling it is truly amazing. I highly recommend all and any of Ted Kooser's work to anyone who has the gift to understand and appreciate this man's wonderful way with words.
Ted, I just got your book, Delights and Shadows, and The Poetry Home Repair Manual today..I finished Delights and Shadows and half way through Home Repair..LOL I'm definately a free style writer..No syllabics for me.. I am so inspired by your writing. Wanda Bailey
Where can I find the poem 'That was I' by Ted Kooser I would enjoy having a copy to read to my class mates.
A Birthday Poem
Just past dawn, the sun stands with its heavy red head in a black stanchion of trees, waiting for someone to come with his bucket for the foamy white light, and then a long day in the pasture. I too spend my days grazing, feasting on every green moment