"Osage." This is one of the woods that I think is one of the great gifts of the Great Plains. It has this great orange color to it. A friend of mine made some bowls out of it. It's very hard wood to work with, but I've always been fascinated with it.


Imagine a wood
that's really
as tough as nails;
you've got it.

If a man
can hammer
a fencing staple
into a post
of osage orange,
you can bet
that every cow
in forty miles
will know about it
sooner or later.

The Indians
said that it made
good bow wood,
yellow and strong,
the best
east of the Rockies.

Before barbed wire,
the settlers
planted these trees
for hedges.
Thorny and thick,
they still stand here
putting an edge
to the corn.

In the fall,
when their leaves lie
leathery, dead
in the furrows,
the old limbs call
with fruit,
green globes as big
as cantaloupes
easy to reach,
not good for much
but wonder.

Ted Kooser – "Osage"


Other Poems by Ted Kooser:

"Abandoned Farmhouse"
"Barn Owl"
"City Limits"
"The Great Grandparents"
"Great Plains in Winter"
"How to Foretell a Change
   in the Weather"
"In the Corners of Fields"
"Riding the Bus in Midwinter"
"So This is Nebraska"
"Spring Plowing"
"There is Always a Little Wind"
"Tillage Marks"