Nebraska’s Ted Kooser, U.S. poet laureate from 2004 to 2006, offers “American Life in Poetry,” a column on contemporary poetry.
Here’s a poem for this season by Tim Nolan of Minnesota. Once we begin to be thankful for things, there are more and more things to be thankful for.
Thanks for the Italian chestnuts — with their
tough shells — the smooth chocolaty
skin of them — thanks for the boiling water —
itself a miracle and a mystery —
thanks for the seasoned sauce pan
and the old wooden spoon — and all
the neglected instruments in the drawer —
the garlic crusher — the bent paring knife —
the apple slicer that creates six
perfect wedges out of the crisp Haralson —
thanks for the humming radio — thanks
for the program on the radio
about the guy who was a cross-dresser —
but his wife forgave him — and he
ended up almost dying from leukemia —
(and you could tell his wife loved him
entirely — it was in her deliberate voice) —
thanks for the brined turkey —
the size of a big baby — thanks—
for the departed head of the turkey —
the present neck — the giblets
(whatever they are) — wrapped up as
small gifts inside the cavern of the ribs —
thanks — thanks — thanks — for the candles
lit on the table — the dried twigs —
the autumn leaves in the blue Chinese vase —
thanks — for the faces — our faces — in this low light.
Poem copyright ©2012 by Tim Nolan, from his most recent book of poems, “And Then,” New Rivers Press, 2012. Poem reprinted by permission of Tim Nolan and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2012 by The Poetry Foundation.