American Life in Poetry: Column 458

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Thomas R. Moore, a poet from Maine, has written a fine snow-shoveling poem, and this is a good time of year for it. I especially admire the double entendre of “squaring off.”

Removing the Dross

After snowstorms my father
shoveled the driveway where it lay
open to a sweep of wind across

a neighbor’s field, where the snow
drifted half way down to the paved
road, before snow-blowers, before

pick-ups cruised the streets with
THE BOSS lettered on red plows.
He heated the flat shovel

in the woodstove till the blade
steamed, like Vulcan at his furnace
removing the dross, then rubbed

a hissing candle on the steel
so the snow would slide unchecked
as he made each toss. He marked

blocks with the waxed blade, lifted
and tossed, lifted and tossed again,
squaring off against the snow.


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2010 by Thomas R. Moore , whose most recent book of poems is Chet Sawing, Fort Hemlock Press, 2012. Poem reprinted from The Bolt-Cutters, Fort Hemlock Press, 2010, by permission of Thomas R. Moore and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2018 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.