December 30, 2012 in Features

American Life in Poetry

Ted Kooser U.S. poet laureate, 2004-’06
 

When we began this column in 2005, I determined not to include any of my own poems because I wanted to introduce our readers to the work of as many of the other American poets as I could. But from time to time someone has requested that I publish one of my own. So here’s a seasonal poem, for those who’ve asked.

Christmas Mail

Cards in each mailbox,

angel, manger, star and lamb,

as the rural carrier,

driving the snowy roads,

hears from her bundles

the plaintive bleating of sheep,

the shuffle of sandals,

the clopping of camels.

At stop after stop,

she opens the little tin door

and places deep in the shadows

the shepherds and wise men,

the donkeys lank and weary,

the cow who chews and muses.

And from her Styrofoam cup,

white as a star and perched

on the dashboard, leading her

ever into the distance,

there is a hint of hazelnut,

and then a touch of myrrh.

Poem copyright 2012 by Ted Kooser, and reprinted by permission of the author. American Life in Poetry is supported by The Poetry Foundation and the English department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.


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