What poets can do for people when they're lucky is to give them ways of looking at the world afresh. And I'll read this poem and then tell you a little bit about it. It's called …

Spring Plowing

West of Omaha the freshly plowed fields
steam in the night like lakes.
The smell of the earth floods over the roads.
The field mice are moving their nests
to the higher ground of fence rows,
the old among them crying out to the owls
to take them all. The paths in the grass
are loud with the squeak of their carts.
They keep their lanterns covered.

I published that poem in a literary magazine, and a woman wrote me a few weeks after that and said, 'I will never pass a freshly plowed field without thinking of those mice again.' And to me, that was a great honor that someone would take that poem and have it actually shape their perception in that way. Of course, that's an objective that I wish all my poems could do, but many of them fail at that, I'm sure.

Ted Kooser – "Spring Plowing"


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"
"There is Always a Little Wind"
"Tillage Marks"