Ted Kooser: American life in poetry Nov. 18, 2012

Ted Kooser: American life in poetry Nov. 18, 2012

Our sense of smell is the one sense most likely to transport us through time. A sniff of fried fish on a breeze and I can wind up in my grandmother's kitchen 60 years ago, getting ready to eat bluegill. Michael Walsh, a Minnesotan, builds this fine poem about his parents around the odor of cattle that they carry with them, even into this moment.

Barn Clothes

Same size, my parents stained and tore

alike in the barn, their brown hair

ripe as cow after twelve hours of gutters.

At supper they spoke in jokey moos.

Sure, showers could dampen that reek

down to a whiff under fingernails, behind ears,

but no wash could wring the animal from their clothes:

one pair, two pair, husband, wife, reversible.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (http://www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It also is supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem from "The Dirt Riddles" by Walsh (University of Arkansas Press, 2010). Reprinted with permission from Walsh and the publisher.

Topics (1):Books

Comments

News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments