Ted Kooser: American life in poetry Dec. 23, 2012

Ted Kooser: American life in poetry Dec. 23, 2012

The first winter my wife and I lived in the country, I brought a wild juniper tree in from our pasture and prepared to decorate it for Christmas. As it began to warm up, it started to smell as if a coyote, in fact a number of coyotes, had stopped to mark it, and it was soon banished to the yard.

Jeffrey Harrison, a poet who lives in Massachusetts, had a much better experience with nature:


It wasn't until we got the Christmas tree

into the house and up on the stand

that our daughter discovered a small bird's nest

tucked among its needled branches.

Amazing, that the nest had made it

all the way from Nova Scotia on a truck

mashed together with hundreds of other trees

without being dislodged or crushed.

And now it made the tree feel wilder,

a balsam fir growing in our living room,

as though at any moment a bird might flutter

through the house and return to the nest.

And yet, because we'd brought the tree indoors,

we'd turned the nest into the first ornament.

So we wound the tree with strings of lights,

draped it with strands of red beads,

and added the other ornaments, then dropped

two small brass bells into the nest, like eggs

containing music, and hung a painted goldfinch

from the branch above, as if to keep them warm.

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