From Splitting an Order. Copper Canyon Press, 2014.
The north-south streets are named for poets –
Longfellow, Whittier, Bryant, Lowell –
so it’s no surprise that this tiny village
is fading to gray, mildewed and dusty,
shelved at the back of the busy library
of American progress. On this winter day
all that is left of Whittier’s “Snow-Bound”
whispers in under the nailed-shut door
of a house at the edge of a cornfield,
and slides across a red vinyl car seat
wedged in a broken tree. All but a few
stubborn families have packed up and left,
seeking a better life, following Evangeline,
leaving this island with its cars up on blocks,
its gardens of broken washing machines,
its empty rabbit hutches nailed to sheds,
cold and alone on the sea of the prairie,
to be pounded and pounded forever
by time and these whitecaps of snow.
Poem copyright Ted Kooser, used here with permission.