a happy birthday 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 the day down into night, to sit alone, and smooth the unreadable page with the pale gray ghost of my hand
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MOTHER - By Ted Kooser Mid April already, and the wild plums bloom at the roadside, a lacy white against the exuberant, jubilant green of new grass and the dusty, fading black of burned-out ditches. No leaves, not yet, only the delicate, star-petaled blossoms, sweet with their timeless perfume. You have been gone a month today and have missed three rains and one nightlong watch for tornadoes. I sat in the cellar from six to eight while fat spring clouds went somersaulting, rumbling east. Then it poured, a storm that walked on legs of lightning, dragging its shaggy belly over the fields. The meadowlarks are back, and the finches are turning from green to gold. Those same two geese have come to the pond again this year, honking in over the trees and splashing down. They never nest, but stay a week or two then leave. The peonies are up, the red sprouts, burning in circles like birthday candles, for this is the month of my birth, as you know, the best month to be born in, thanks to you, everything ready to burst with living. There will be no more new flannel nightshirts sewn on your old black Singer, no birthday card addressed in a shaky but businesslike hand. You asked me if I would be sad when it happened and I am sad. But the iris I moved from your house now hold in the dusty dry fists of their roots green knives and forks as if waiting for dinner, as if spring were a feast. I thank you for that. Were it not for the way you taught me to look at the world, to see the life at play in everything, I would have to be lonely forever.
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Mother (fragment)... You asked me if I would be sad when it happened and I am sad. But the iris I moved from your house now hold in the dusty dry fists of their roots green knives and forks as if waiting for dinner, as if spring were a feast. I thank you for that. Were it not for the way you taught me to look at the world, to see the life at play in everything, I would have to be lonely forever.
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Just as a dancer, turning and turning, may fill the dusty light with the soft swirl of her flying skirts, our weeping willow -- now old and broken , creaking in the breeze -- turns slowly, slowly in the winter sun, sweeping the rusty roof of the barn with the pale blue lacework of her shadow.
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I like the poem on the page and not at the podium. I like to address the poem in peace and quiet, not on the edge of a folding chair with a full bladder. I can't stand hearing a poem that I can't see. I did a reading at Wayne State, and it ended with the comedy such occasions deserve. I'd seated myself on a piano bench, and discovered upon attempting to arise at the end that the varnish had softened and I was stuck fast. The hinge was to the front, under my knees, so that as I tried to get up, I merely opened the lid.
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