Celebrating National Poetry Month #16: from the Archives: Memory

by Ted Kooser

Spinning up dust and cornshucks
as it crossed the chalky, exhausted fields,
it sucked up into its heart
hot work, cold work, lunch buckets,
good horses, bad horses, their names
and the names of mules that were
better or worse than the horses,
then rattled the dented tin sides
of the threshing machine, shook
the manure spreader, cranked
the tractor’s crank that broke
the uncle’s arm, then swept on
through the windbreak, taking
the treehouse and dirty magazines,
turning its fury on the barn
where cows kicked over buckets
and the gray cat sat for a squirt
of thick milk in its whiskers, crossed
the chicken pen, undid the hook,
plucked a warm brown egg
from the meanest hen, then turned
toward the house, where threshers
were having dinner, peeled back
the roof and the kitchen ceiling,
reached down and snatched up
uncles and cousins, grandma, grandpa,
parents and children one by one,
held them like dolls, looked
long and longingly into their faces,
then set them back in their chairs
with blue and white platters of chicken
and ham and mashed potatoes
still steaming before them, with
boats of gravy and bowls of peas
and three kinds of pie, and suddenly,
with a sound like a sigh, drew up
its crowded, roaring, dusty funnel,
and there at its tip was the nib of a pen.


  1. I love your photograph! And the poem is great as well. Isn't it wonderful that spring is now 'here'. Are you getting much sunshine? Is all your snow gone? We are finally starting to see spring. Today blooming balsam along the highway was a thing of beauty. The river was smooth as glass as I drove beside it for mile upon mile. So soothing --- relaxing. I hope your week is going well.


  2. I love this poem........


  3. I love this...
    and your photo illustrates it so well.

  4. that poem sucked me in...
    so many things that reminded me of our little farm -- or my uncles BIG one


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