American Life in Poetry: Column 104
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
At some time many of us will have to make a last visit to a house where aged parents lived out their days. Here Marge Saiser beautifully compresses one such farewell.
Where They Lived
One last time I unlock
the house where they lived
and fought and tried again:
the air of the place,
carpet with its unchanging green,
chair with its back to me.
On the TV set, the Christmas cactus
has bloomed, has spilled its pink flowers
down its scraggly arms
and died, drying into paper.
At the round oak table,
ghosts lean toward one another,
almost a bow, before rising,
before ambling away.
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. Reprinted by permission of Marjorie Saiser, whose most recent book of poems is Lost in Seward unty, Backwaters Press, 2001. Copyright © 2006 by Marjorie Saiser. Introduction copyright © 2019 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.