Poem introduction

This poem which is sort of grim at the end is an attempt to describe a kind of day very early in spring when we're hopeful spring is coming but it darkens down and gets cold and damp at the end which is very much the way the poem happens.

Late February

Late February

The first warm day,
and by mid-afternoon
the snow is no more
than a washing
strewn over the yards,
the bedding rolled in knots
and leaking water,
the white shirts lying
under the evergreens.
Through the heaviest drifts
rise autumn's fallen
bicycles, small carnivals
of paint and chrome,
the Octopus
and Tilt-A-Whirl
beginning to turn
in the sun. Now children,
stiffened by winter
and dressed, somehow,
like old men, mutter
and bend to the work
of building dams.
But such a spring is brief;
by five o'clock
the chill of sundown,
darkness, the blue TVs
flashing like storms
in the picture windows,
the yards gone gray,
the wet dogs barking
at nothing. Far off
across the cornfields
staked for streets and sewers,
the body of a farmer
missing since fall
will show up
in his garden tomorrow,
as unexpected
as a tulip.


'Late February' from Sure Signs: New and Selected Poems (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980), © Ted Kooser 1980, used by permission of the author and the publisher. All rights are controlled by the University of Pitsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, www.pitt.edu/press/.

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