Friday, April 27, 2012

Earth Day: Two From Ted Kooser

Grant Wood "Spring Plowing"

Spring Plowing

West of Omaha the freshly plowed fields
steam in the night like lakes.
The smell of the earth floods over the roads.
The field mice are moving their nests
to the higher ground of fence rows,
the old among them crying out to the owls
to take them all. The paths in the grass
are loud with the squeak of their carts.
They keep their lanterns covered.

"Spring Plowing" by Ted Kooser, from Flying at Night.
 © University of Pittsburgh Press, 1985.

Mary Denning "Spring Rain"

How to Foretell a Change in the Weather

Rain always follows the cattle
sniffing the air and huddling
in fields with their heads to the lee.
You will know that the weather is changing
when your sheep leave the pasture
too slowly, and your dogs lie about
and look tired; when the cat
turns her back to the fire,
washing her face, and the pigs
wallow in litter; cocks will be crowing
at unusual hours, flapping their wings;
hens will chant; when your ducks
and your geese are too noisy,
and the pigeons are washing themselves;
when the peacocks squall loudly
from the tops of the trees,
when the guinea fowl grates;
when sparrows chip loudly
and fuss in the roadway, and when swallows
fly low, skimming the earth;
when the carrion crow
croaks to himself, and wild fowl
dip and wash, and when moles
throw up hills with great fervor;
when toads creep out in numbers;
when frogs croak; when bats
enter the houses; when birds
begin to seek shelter,
and the robin approaches your house;
when the swan flies at the wind,
and your bees leave the hive;
when ants carry their eggs to and fro,
and flies bite, and the earthworm
is seen on the surface of things.

"How to Foretell a Change in the Weather" by Ted Kooser, from Flying at Night.
 © Universtity of Pittsburg Press, 1985.


  1. When my Grandma says her bones are starting to ache, I know it is going to rain :) Great paintings and poems. Also when you see me fly out of the house to the stream Mach 5 you know it is going to rain :) Tight Lines. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for these, Jim. Reading choice poetry is so pleasing, and it leaves me with the sense of doing something that is healthful. It's as if I, with your help, just fed my soul an apple.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Pete. Very well put. You've got some poet in you, too. That's exactly how I feel when I read a good poem. My teeth squeak.

  3. Jim- My teeth are squeaking too. Great imagery. Sights,feel and smells. I like that chose agrarian type poems for Earth Day. Sustainable agriculture and husbandry is cool. Stewards,for sure. Folks living very close to the land doing some pretty sweet observing. Like the pairing with the paintings too.

    1. Exactly: stewardship. We can live in harmony with the earth that sustains us, if we only would. We really don't have a choice. Thanks for the comment.