“A Town Somewhere” by Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser


I’d like to find it for you but I can’t. You might not
like it anyway. It’s quaint and pretty in an old,
worn way, quite near to me at times. But then it’s
gone, impossible to find. I’ve been there always
but I haven’t been, if you can understand. It’s a town
that I remember in sweet detail that was never.

It would be simple to find someone to love,
it’s so open there. Whenever there’s a fence around
a stand of flowers—bachelor’s buttons—there’s a gate
with a hook-and-eye latch that a finger can lift,
and whenever you see shutters framing windows,
they’re decorations only, for they shut out nothing.

Those windows are Windex clean, too, sprayed
and wiped with wads of inessential news.
If you peer deep into the liquid shadows, careful
to avoid stirring the surface, you might see a figure
rising, as if to take a breath of what’s beyond,
looking out at you above a sill of potted violets.

Was she the person you might love? She’s gone.
And even as I call up the town for you I feel it
darken. Sundown. A dog is in the distance barking
and barking, as if aware that we’d been there
just passing through, leaving no more than a scent
on the wind, where no one was, or seemed to be.

from Rattle #65, Fall 2019
2021 Pushcart Prize Winner


Ted Kooser: “Many years ago I published a poem about field mice moving their nests out of the way of a plow in early spring, and a woman who saw the poem wrote to me and said that she would never again pass a freshly-plowed field without thinking about those mice, and I said to myself, ‘Well this is to be my job!’ and I have been working at it ever since.” (web)

Rattle Logo