Ted Kooser, The Wheeling Year

Ted Kooser’s The Wheeling Year: A Poet’s Field Book has been a favorite on my reading list this year. He doesn’t claim “poetry” for these prose pieces, but they sound like poetry to me. I mean to give the book to a friend, to make a gift of it in all its luscious detail. Instead, I keep carrying it around and not giving it, rereading and writing out these meditative pieces in my own notebook.

Here is one from February:

Maybe we carry too much through the door from the past, propped open with a broom that has swept up so much sentiment it has bent to the shape of its sweeping — like a stiff old floor-length skirt still waltzing — then across the wide porch where those we love, living and dead, sit rocking and talking, all drinking longnecks and laughing together, none of them offering help.

Then over the grass, box after box, to the rented U-Haul that is our life, already stuffed with all we haven’t been able to part with, stale with dead dreams and packed so hastily we will never be able to get to the wisdom we lugged out early and loaded on first.

Twenty-nine dollars a day is the going rate, about what a person could live on if he had to, and the past is right there in the rearview mirror, following close, painted with slogans, its springs bent down from all we ever were. (8)

8 replies
  1. pmar48
    pmar48 says:

    So affirming to read words about my people and places. Wide porch, longnecks, U-Haul and oh, how I’d like access to that old wisdom, stuffed too soon, in the front of the truck.

  2. Bethany
    Bethany says:

    This is such an absolute delight to read. I’ve read his books: Delights and Shadows, Splitting an Order, and The Poetry Home Repair Manual. I’m half way through The Wheeling Year (that is what was in my sedan while at the reading!) and loving it.

    What a beautiful day in National Poetry Month for me to cross paths with you, Bethany! Your reading was so genuine and just lovely. The image of the pottery splitting in two resonated deeply with me. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of Sparrow.


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