By Ted Kooser

Although it’s abandoned at two in the morning,
an empty white carton of buzzing fluorescence,
there’s always the feeling that someone was there
until only a moment before you walked in,
someone who reached up and popped a soap bubble
of fragrance, the last shimmer of color afloat
in this otherwise colorless storefront, then strolled past
the choir of top-loaders and opened their lids,
leaving them open, each of them holding its breath
before singing, two dollars in quarters per song.

Ted Kooser recently retired from teaching at the University of Nebraska and founding and editing American Life in Poetry, a weekly column free to newspapers and on line. it reaches 4.6 million readers worldwide. Kwame Dawes has taken it over effective January 1st, 2021. Kooser’s most recent book is Red Stilts, from Copper Canyon Press.

Originally published in NOR 22.

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