Alone

By Ted Kooser

One of my oldest friends, widowed a year,
drifts on, riding low in the water, north
into his eightieth year, his rudder
broken away, the stillness of ice fields
ahead, and little aboard but Hershey bars
and Diet Pepsi, as he floats in one of two
twin La-Z-Boys, his late wife’s dachshund
asleep on his lap, a big flat-screen TV like
a billowing sail, pulling them forward
into the years, his choice of the two
recliners now his—if he wanted to choose,
which he doesn’t—hers still with the last
of her flotsam around it, the Christmas
decorations she’d hoped to finish in time,
her hot-glue gun still at the ready,
the empty cardboard toilet paper tubes,
the red and white construction paper,
some of the red already glued in cones—
unfinished Santa hats—and cotton wads
to pinch apart for making Santa’s beard.


Ted Kooser’s most recent collection of poems is Red Stilts, from Copper Canyon Press. He has a chapbook forthcoming from Pulley Press, a children’s picture book from Candlewick Press, and a collection of poems for young people from University of Nebraska Press, all due out in 2022.

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