“A Pretty Pass” by Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser


Things have come to a pretty pass, Mother,
as you’d be saying today, when the mailman’s
afraid of the mail, up at our box by the road,
extending a latex-gloved hand from his Jeep
to put in my earlier letter to you, stamped:
but I’m trying again. I’ve been wanting to
tell you that the address you left behind,
that of your house on slow 29th Street,
its shutters nailed open, never meant to
shut out anything—that open-windowed
world is gone, and the world that replaced it
isn’t one that you’d recognize, the mailman
wearing disposable gloves, and neighbors
quarantined in their houses as they wait
for a little good news. And, although you
resisted it fiercely—perched in your chair
by your front window’s familiar view,
your sewing basket always within reach,
for making new things, and for making things
new or nearly new, mending and darning
at a time when the world was still mendable—
I’d say you were lucky to go when you did.

from Poets Respond
April 7, 2020


Ted Kooser: “This poem is obviously written in response to COVID-19. It’s my third about this.”

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