by Ted Kooser
Her body was the cellar
under her life.
The marks of the old floods
rounded the walls.
Everything that she’d had
had been carried outside
and burned on the lawn.
There was nothing left but a few broken jars
and some spiders,
eating each other
under the stairsteps.
Everyone seemed to know
that there was nothing
to go down into her for.
by Ted Kooser
You take care of the housework
and leave the poetry writing to me.
Just leave the poems to me
and keep up with the housework.
I don’t want to find any of your poems
lying around the house,
particularly when somebody comes to the house
to look at my poems.
And one other thing, and don’t you forget it:
I’m the poet around here,
and you are the mistress of the poet.
If you think you can be the poet, forget it.
For as long as you live here,
you are the girl. I get to be the poet.
These two poems were facing each other in a book of 20 poems by Ted that Heidi had to go to great trouble to find. They run the spectrum, I think, from dark to light. I have been thinking a lot about dark and light in poetry. My favorite poet right now is Claudia Emerson, who I will post soon. Her poems lives in igloos at the dark end. Billy Collins’ poems rest under palms at the light end. Ted scrambles between them.
A website that we should link from this page: www.americanlifeinpoetry.org. New poem each week.