American Life in Poetry: Column 702
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
David Mason is the former poet laureate of Colorado and a professor of literature and writing at Colorado College. His most recent book is The Sound: New and Selected Poems, from Red Hen press. I very much like the way in which the muddy boots both open and close this poem, in which not one but two biographies are offered to us in less than a hundred words.
The Mud Room
His muddy rubber boots
stood in the farmhouse mud room
while he sat in the kitchen,
unshaven, dealing solitaire.
His wife (we called her Auntie)
rolled out dough in the kitchen
for a pie, put up preserves
and tidied, clearing her throat.
They listened to the TV
at six, he with his fingers
fumbling the hearing aids,
she watching the kitchen clock.
Old age went on like that,
a vegetable patch, a horse
some neighbor kept in the barn,
the miles of grass and fences.
After he died his boots
stood muddy in the mud room
as if he’d gone in socks,
softly out to the meadow.
We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2017 by David Mason, “The Mud Room.” Poem reprinted by permission of David Mason. Introduction copyright ©2018 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.