By TED KOOSER
U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-06
Peter Everwine is a poet whose work I have admired for many years. Here is a poem about an experience many of us have shared. Everwine lives in California, but what happens in this poem happens every day in every corner of the world.
After the Funeral
We opened closets and bureau drawers
and packed away, in boxes, dresses and shoes,
the silk underthings still wrapped in tissue.
We sorted through cedar chests. We gathered
and set aside the keepsakes and the good silver
and brought up from the coal cellar
jars of tomato sauce, peppers, jellied fruit.
We dismantled, we took down from the walls,
we bundled and carted off and swept clean.
Goodbye, goodbye, we said, closing
the door behind us, going our separate ways
from the house we had emptied,
and which, in the coming days, we would fill
again and empty and try to fill again.
American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It also is supported by the department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Introduction copyright 2014 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. Unsolicited manuscripts are not accepted.