this paper boat

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This Paper Boat
Ted Kooser

Carefully placed upon the future,
it tips from the breeze and skims away,
frail thing of words, this valentine,
so far to sail. And if you find it
caught in the reeds, its message blurred,
the thought that you are holding it
a moment is enough for me.

the sigh

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The Sigh
Ted Kooser
You lie in your bed and sigh
and the springs deep in the mattress
sing out with the same low note,
mocking your sadness. It’s hard––
not the mattress, but life.
Life is hard. All along
you thought you could trust in
your own bed, your own sorrow.
You thought you were sleeping alone.

widow

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A Widow
Ted Kooser
She’s combed his neckties out of her hair
and torn out the tongues of his shoes.
She’s poured his ashes out of their urn
and into his humidor. For the very last time,
she’s scrubbed the floor around the toilet.
She hates him even more for dying.

pocket

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Pocket Poem
Ted Kooser
If this comes creased and creased again and soiled
as if I’d opened it a thousand times
to see if what I’d written here was right,
it’s all because I looked too long for you
to put in your pocket. Midnight says
the little gifts of loneliness come wrapped
by nervous fingers. What I wanted this
to say was that I want to be so close
that when you find it, it is warm from me.

plains ignore us

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Visiting Mountains
Ted Kooser
The plains ignore us,
but these mountains listen,
an audience of thousands
holding its breath
in each rock. Climbing,
we pick our way
over the skulls of small talk.
On the prairies below us,
the grass leans this way and that
in discussion;
words fly away like corn shucks
over the fields.
Here, lost in a mountain’s attention, there’s nothing to say.

leaky

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The Leaky Faucet
Ted Kooser
All through the night, the leaky faucet
searches the stillness of the house
with its radar blip: who is awake?
Who lies out there as full of worry
as a pan in the sink? Cheer up,
cheer up, the little faucet calls,
someone will help you through your life.

birthday

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A Happy Birthday
Ted Kooser
This evening, I sat by an open window
and read till the light was gone and the book
was no more than a part of the darkness.
I could easily have switched on a lamp,
but I wanted to ride this day down into night,
to sit alone and smooth the unreadable page
with the pale gray ghost of my hand.