Splitting an Order, Ted Kooser, 2014
Kooser, a native Nebraskan, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and former US Poet Laureate (2003-5), published these poems on the occasion of his 75th birthday when time, aging, death, and the company of others were at the front of his mind. These are plain poems, without rhyme or much in the way of fancy enjambment, but they are full of metaphors which gently guide your mind into the world that Kooser grew up with, lived, and is now moving towards the end of. Nature figures prominently—trees, weather (especially rain, thunder, and lightning), leaves, ponds, tree frogs, opossum in the barn, dead mouse in the trap, dead bat in the day bed. His people are frequently in pairs (hence the title) whether they be male friends, female friends, father and son, husband and wife, each helping the other through the ‘narrows and into the generations.’ Continuity of family is prominent. I loved the observations about letters and how the ‘r’ in father and forever point to the future. These are poems to be re-read and treasured quietly all in one sitting. Closing the Windows (p60) may be a poem for the essay. It was all so ordinary then/to see him at the foot of the bed,/closing a squeaky window,/but more than sixty years have passed/and now I understand that it was/not so ordinary after all.