Thursday, March 29, 2007

American Life in Poetry: Column 104

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006

At some time many of us will have to make a last visit to a house where aged parents lived out their days. Here Marge Saiser beautifully compresses one such farewell.


Where They Lived

One last time I unlock
the house where they lived

and fought and tried again:
the air of the place,

carpet with its unchanging green,
chair with its back to me.

On the TV set, the Christmas cactus
has bloomed, has spilled its pink flowers

down its scraggly arms
and died, drying into paper.

At the round oak table,
ghosts lean toward one another,

almost a bow, before rising,
before ambling away.


Reprinted by permission of Marjorie Saiser, whose most recent book of poems is "Lost in Seward County," Backwaters Press, 2001. Copyright (c) 2006 by Marjorie Saiser. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.

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