Sewing Machine

Ted Kooser

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.

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Ted  Kooser

Ted Kooser served two terms as the US Poet Laureate, from 2004 to 2006, and during his second term was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his collection Delights & Shadows from Copper Canyon Press. His most recent collections are Splitting an Order (Copper Canyon Press) and The Wheeling Year (University of Nebraska Press). For the past twelve years, he has edited a weekly poetry column called “American Life in Poetry.” He lives with his wife, Kathleen Rutledge, in rural Nebraska. (Author photo by Stancey Hancock)

Four decades of poetry―and a generous selection of new work―make up this extraordinary collection by Pulitzer Prize winner Ted Kooser. Firmly rooted in the landscapes of the Midwest, Kooser’s poetry succeeds in finding the emotional resonances within the ordinary. Kooser’s language of quiet intensity trains itself on the intricacies of human relationships, as well as the animals and objects that make up our days. As Poetry magazine said of his work, “Kooser documents the dignities, habits, and small griefs of daily life, our hunger for connection, our struggle to find balance.”

“Kooser… must be the most accessible and enjoyable major poet in America. His lines are so clear and simple.”
―Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

“Nothing escapes him; everything is illuminated.”
Library Journal

“Will one day rank alongside of Edgar Lee Masters, Robert Frost, and William Carlos Williams.”
Minneapolis Tribune

“Kooser’s ability to discover the smallest detail and render it remarkable is a rare gift.”
The Bloomsbury Review

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