A Letter in October by Ted Kooser

The Bi-Weekly Poem: A Letter in October by Ted Kooser

A Letter in October
By Ted Kooser

Dawn comes later and later now,
and I, who only a month ago
could sit with coffee every morning
watching the light walk down the hill
to the edge of the pond and place
a doe there, shyly drinking,

then see the light step out upon
the water, sowing reflections
to either side—a garden
of trees that grew as if by magic—
now see no more than my face,
mirrored by darkness, pale and odd,

startled by time. While I slept,
night in its thick winter jacket
bridled the doe with a twist
of wet leaves and led her away,
then brought its black horse with harness
that creaked like a cricket, and turned

the water garden under. I woke,
and at the waiting window found
the curtains open to my open face;
beyond me, darkness. And I,
who only wished to keep looking out,
must now keep looking in.

Just some thoughts

To me, a good poem takes you somewhere. It creates a little vision, a little picture, then places you in the center of that picture. Here, Ted Kooser places brings us into his kitchen and we stand just over his shoulder as he looks out on the gathering day; a day that gathers later and later now that September has become October. Where before, we could see far out into the Ted’s garden and perhaps catch a glimpse of a doe drinking from the pond, now all we have is darkness and our own faces reflected in the dark window. And that what fall is: A changing from the external, outward-facing life of summer to the internal, introverted life of winter.




Ted Kooser was born in Iowa in 1939. He served as Poet Laureate in Poetry from 2004 to 2006. He is former vice-president of Lincoln Bankers Life, an insurance company, and now a professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. You can read more poetry by Ted Kooser and/or learn more about him on his website.

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[The post image is one I took in Cooperstown, New York in the fall of 2016]




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