Shade by Ted Kooser


When the weather was pleasant I’d see him
parked on a straight chair in the shade
of their open porch, just the shape of a man
in the shadows, the chair pushed back against
the siding, his face indistinguishable,
seated not with his legs casually crossed,
one foot free in the air, but with both shoes
flat on the slab, his hands cupping his knees,
like someone who’d waited a long time
to be called to another room. Each morning
his wife would help him down onto the chair,
his hands in her hands, easing him back,
and he’d stay there all day. There were birds
at the feeder to watch, a few nuthatches
coming and going—juncos and goldfinches,
bluejays, cardinals, sparrows—and trucks
rolling past on their way to the co-op,
their muscly young drivers in sunglasses,
just the one hand on the wheel, not one
glancing over to see him there under his roof,
just a shape among shapes among shadows,
a few feet back from the light at the edge.


Ted Kooser is, at 83, fully retired from teaching and public appearances but writing every day at his home in rural Nebraska. His most recent collection of poems is a fine letterpress limited printing of A SUITE OF MOONS, from Gibraltar Editions in Omaha. He is a former U. S. Poet Laureate and winner of the Pulitzer Prize.

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