Early morning, near freezing


A few months ago, as I was headed to the checkout at the library, I saw a copy of Winter Morning Walks: one hundred postcards to Jim Harrison by Ted Kooser sitting in the return bin. I picked it up and checked it out not knowing anything about the book and not very familiar with Kooser’s poetry.

This slim volume contains poems that Kooser wrote and pasted on postcards and sent to his friend Jim. Kooser was recuperating from cancer at the time and used his morning walks as inspiration. All of the poems begin with reporting the weather condition.

I was thinking about this work the other day and was inspired to pen the poem below:

7:41, 37 degrees

The sky is the color of wet paint.
Trees outlined against the quickly lightening gray blue sky.
Later, snow will fall, dissolving as it hits the still warm earth,
becoming rain drops that will remember the cold, early morning.

I like the idea of taking inspiration from the world around you, of being aware of your physical surroundings and using them as a springboard to write about other things. But you know what? It’s pretty damn hard. I would have to write a ton of these to come anywhere close to choosing 100 that would be good. I can’t just scrawl a few lines on a piece of paper and mail it off to someone. But, perhaps Mr. Kooser worked for hours on each of these before sending: the finished work of an experienced writer makes it look too easy.

You can read more about Kooser and some of his poems at The Poetry Foundation or at Poets.Org

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