cover image Splitting an Order

Splitting an Order

Ted Kooser. Copper Canyon (Consortium, dist.), $23 (90p) ISBN 978-1-55659-469-4

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Kooser’s long-awaited follow-up to 2005’s PulitzerPrize–winning Delights and Shadows is a journey of intimacies, a stroll through lives and minds via common objects and quotidian occurrences, that brims over with small profundities and discoveries. “Because it arrives while you sleep,” Kooser writes in “Bad News,” “it’s the one call you never pick up/ on the first ring.” Writing in the soft, casual tone he’s best known for, his focuses are the telephone, the sundial, the birdhouse, and the Arby’s meal. Kooser explores the bonds of love and friendship with simple insights into the marvels of existence and meditations on aging and weariness: “she stepped outside, and placed one foot/ and then the other on the future, and it held her up.” In “Tree Removal,” “the tree makes its exit with grace,/ going down slowly, one piece at a time.” Old objects, present and remembered, become the markers by which a mind reconstitutes and evaluates a life, “forever wading/ into the next hour, followed by the rest.” Kooser, alone “among the others who have stood here,” observes the slow summation of past and present people and things, all “becoming a piece of some great, rusty work/ we seem to fit exactly.” (Oct.)