When I was a little boy, my Grandmother Kooser, who was an enormous woman, spent a lot of time setting in a chair. She had a Zenith radio in her parlor, and my sister and I would go over there. I remember sitting at Grandma's feet as she sat in the chair. Her knees were like the faces on Mt. Rushmore. It was that enormous, in a way. A huge woman. At any rate, this is a poem about her Zenith radio, listening to the war news.


It was part of her parlor's darkness
during the war years – its Gothic cabinet,
its shadowy speaker behind a thin lattice
like the face of a priest – but when
my grandmother snapped its switch
each evening to tune in the news,
it opened the tiny Japanese fan
of its dial and light spilled over her fingers,
swollen and stiff. And in the near darkness
my sister and I, shushed into silence,
and Grandmother, rubbing and kneading
the pain from her hands, sat there
at the rear of the action, a patrol
in the weak yellow glow from the war.

I can remember her having one of those one-star flags hanging in the front window because my uncle Charlie was over in the Philippines during the war the war.

Poet Laureate Ted Kooser – "Zenith"


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"