Image by Kimberly Farmer

Sara Beth West

(@fiftytwowest)

is a reader and a writer, offering book reviews and interviews with leading writers and thinkers.

On Sundays, We Read Poetry

Each Sunday, I post a brief introduction to a collection of poetry I've been loving. I include one poem that I think really sings. No review. No need. If it's here, you'll know I recommend it. If you have one to recommend (yours or someone else's), send it along. I'll do my best to be here every Sunday.

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It's February, so time to revisit Ted Kooser's The Wheeling Year. True for Kooser as it is for most of us: February seems to be an indecisive fellow. Are you a short gathering of days, speeding toward Spring, or are you interminable and languishing? Are you full of snow and loss and darkness or do you have in you those glimpses of hope, those shine-shadows of birdsong and fox? The answer, of course, is yes. Here's the last entry for February:

Don't talk to me about the stars, about how cold and indifferent they are, about the unimaginable distances. There are millions of stars within us that are just as far, and people like me sometimes burn up a whole life trying to reach them.

Kooser's latest collection, Red Stilts, has a February sensibility about it. Open palmed and easy, but never far from the truth found in darkness, these poems are classic Kooser. My favorite, I think, is not about February at all, titled "In April."


The roadside ditches are funning ankle-deep

in green, where spring has spilled a gallon

of April, and it seems as if the wild plum bushes

have accidentally brushed against the clouds

and are tipped with a white that looks as fresh

as blossoms, though in a week they'll all be brown,

for it's impossible to keep the dust away

from any color painted on Nebraska, despite

the thin, transparent drop cloths of the rain.


So friends, what poems are coloring your Sunday?

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