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Sewing Machine


My grandmother's Singer had a black treadle
like the grate on a drain that someone had pried up
from the back, and propped it partly open, and left it
like that, so that something could find its way out
and slink away along the wall during the night
while I was asleep. At a cousin's house I'd seen
the twin foot pedals on a wheezy parlor organ, too,
like the lids of boxes, pried opened that same way,
up from the back, at a tilt, and partly full of dusty
music. And I'd studied my grandfather's shoes
with their laces wrapped on interesting hooks,
working the pedals of his four-door Dodge sedan
as he drove into town with me sitting beside him,
on the way to Kuempel's hardware store for nails
to fasten something down. And as I slowly awoke
to a hazy summer morning in that saggy bed
next to the sewing machine, I pushed one foot out
from under the comforter, which smelled faintly
of clay and old chickens and the nearby river,
and looked at that foot, and turned it in the light
and thought about all of the places I might find
to set it down while I'd be living in the world.


Ted Kooser

Kindest Regards: New and Selected Poems
Copper Canyon Press


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