“Wood Chips” by Ted Kooser

Ted Kooser


I kicked them up pruning a rose bush
at the end of October, just chanced
upon them because they were there, by then,

after thirty years there, grown over
by those grasses you find among roses.
You know how when high water recedes

in a pond that’s been flooded by rains
it sometimes leaves an intricate bed
of bark and twigs woven into the reeds?

Those wood chips were matted like that,
and were driftwood gray, gray driftwood,
although I remembered them fresh

from the chipper, the color and fragrance
of slices of peach, or of rose petals
fallen away. I often find myself now

picking up things and looking at them
both as they are and as they were,
as I am, also, both, both pink and gray.

from Rattle #65, Fall 2019


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)

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