Dancer

By Ted Kooser

Somewhere along the Front Range of the Rockies
someone who loved you poured you into the wind—
the you I remember, your hair up in pink rollers—

and then, without thinking, turned the carton
bottom-side up and gave it a pat, the dust of you
gone with your baby-talk lisp, the flat sound

of that news taking three years to reach me, over
five hundred miles of Nebraska, word of the you
I remember, on pointe, in scuffed ballet toe shoes

in that duct-taped, cardboard-walled “studio”
I fixed up for you in the stuffy hot attic above your
apartment, sweat on the hard forehead I kissed.

Not like you, the news of your death taking so long
to arrive, you always so quick and light, flouncy,
running away from me, over and over, then gone.


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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