Feb 10 2018
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American Life in Poetry #672

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

So many contemporary poems fail for the lack of strong endings, but here’s one with a masterful latch that snaps closed at the end. Tami Haaland served as Montana’s fifth poet laureate and she teaches at Montana State at Billings. The following poem is fromĀ South Dakota Review.

Returning

When I open the door
and reach to the light switch
the world opens as it did each time.

The garlic jar on the ledge,
the ceramic cup holding
cheese cutters and paring knives.

Outside a branch
from the ash tree
worries the window.

It was a place where I knew
the drawer pulls, the feel of steps
to the basement, the smell of cool cement.

If I open the middle cabinet,
the linen is there as you left it,
well-ordered, none of it fine.

American Life in Poetry provides newspapers and online publications with a free weekly column featuring contemporary American poems. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry: American Life in Poetry seeks to create a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture.

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