A Room in the Past

By Ted Kooser b. 1939 Ted Kooser
It’s a kitchen. Its curtains fill
with a morning light so bright   
you can’t see beyond its windows   
into the afternoon. A kitchen   
falling through time with its things   
in their places, the dishes jingling   
up in the cupboard, the bucket   
of drinking water rippled as if
a truck had just gone past, but that truck   
was thirty years. No one’s at home   
in this room. Its counter is wiped,   
and the dishrag hangs from its nail,   
a dry leaf. In housedresses of mist,   
blue aprons of rain, my grandmother   
moved through this life like a ghost,   
and when she had finished her years,   
she put them all back in their places
and wiped out the sink, turning her back   
on the rest of us, forever.

Ted Kooser, “A Room in the Past” from One World at a Time. Copyright © 1985 by Ted Kooser. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, www.upress.pitt.edu. Used by permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Source: One World At A Time (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1985)

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Poet Ted Kooser b. 1939

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Time & Brevity, Home Life, Death, Living, Relationships, Activities, Indoor Activities

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Ted  Kooser

Biography

Poet and essayist Ted Kooser is known for his honest, accessible verse that celebrates the quotidian and captures a vanishing way of life. Brad Leithauser wrote in the New York Times Book Review that, “Whether or not he originally set out to…[Kooser’s] become, perforce, an elegist.” Populated by farmers, family ancestors, and heirlooms, Kooser’s poems reflect his abiding interest in the past, but escape nostalgia in part because . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Time & Brevity, Home Life, Death, Living, Relationships, Activities, Indoor Activities

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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