Ten years have passed since I read Ted Kooser’s essay “A Poet’s Job Description” (in The Poetry Home Repair Manual) and yet I am compelled by much of what he says. He is casual, generous and warm throughout, all while dishing out truth bombs like “Poetry is a lot more important than poets.”
In the essay, he shares the following poem, a poem that has stayed in my memory and yet feels new as I reread it this week. The connections throughout between physical activities builds up slow, but merge completely in the last line.
A Rainy Morning – Ted Kooser
A young woman in a wheelchair,
wearing a black nylon poncho spattered with rain,
is pushing herself through the morning.
You have seen how pianists
sometimes bend forward to strike the keys,
then lift their hands, draw back to rest,
then lean again to strike just as the chord fades.
Such is the way this woman
strikes at the wheels, then lifts her long white fingers,
letting them float, then bends again to strike
just as the chair slows, as if into a silence.
So expertly she plays the chords
of this difficult music she has mastered,
her wet face beautiful in its concentration,
while the wind turns the pages of rain.
*[Image by RidiculousDream at DeviantART]