My grandmother, Mosure, my mother's mother lived all of her life in Clayton County, Iowa. And when I was a little boy I spent weeks there in the summer. And this is a description of my grandmother's kitchen as I saw it years after she had gone.

A Room in the Past


It’s a kitchen. Its curtains fill
with a morning light so bright
you can’t see beyond its windows
into the afternoon. A kitchen
falling through time with its things
in their places, the dishes jingling
up in the cupboard, the bucket
of drinking water rippled as if
a truck had just gone past, but that truck
was thirty years. No one’s at home
in this room. Its counter is wiped,
and the dishrag hangs from its nail,
a dry leaf. In housedresses of mist,
blue aprons of rain, my grandmother
moved through this life like a ghost,
and when she had finished her years,
she put them all back in their places
and wiped out the sink, turning her back
on the rest of us, forever.

from One World at a Time (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1985), © Ted Kooser 1985, used by permission of the author and the publisher. All rights are controlled by the University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260. Poetry Foundation recording made on 10 July 2007, Lincoln, Nebraska.

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