Depression Glass

By Ted Kooser b. 1939 Ted Kooser
It seemed those rose-pink dishes   
she kept for special company   
were always cold, brought down   
from the shelf in jingling stacks,   
the plates like the panes of ice   
she broke from the water bucket   
winter mornings, the flaring cups   
like tulips that opened too early
and got bitten by frost. They chilled   
the coffee no matter how quickly   
you drank, while a heavy
everyday mug would have kept   
a splash hot for the better
part of a conversation. It was hard   
to hold up your end of the gossip   
with your coffee cold, but it was   
a special occasion, just the same,   
to sit at her kitchen table
and sip the bitter percolation
of the past week’s rumors from cups   
it had taken a year to collect   
at the grocery, with one piece free   
for each five pounds of flour.

Ted Kooser, “Depression Glass” from Delights and Shadows. Copyright © 2004 by Ted Kooser. Reprinted with the permission of Copper Canyon Press, P. O. Box 271, Port Townsend, WA 98368-0271,

Source: Delights and Shadows (Copper Canyon Press, 2004)

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Poet Ted Kooser b. 1939

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Family & Ancestors, Home Life, History & Politics, Eating & Drinking, Money & Economics, Youth, Living, Relationships, Activities, Social Commentaries, Indoor Activities

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Ted  Kooser


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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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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