January 10

While recovering from cancer treatment in 1998–99, United States Poet Laureate Ted Kooser took early-morning walks in the wintry Nebraska countryside. And each day he composed a poem from his walk, pasted it on a postcard, and mailed it to his friend and fellow writer Jim Harrison. Here’s what he wrote on January 10, 1999.  

January 10

Eight degrees at 6 a.m.

Cloudy and cold, the moon like a lamp
behind a curtained window,
and who could be sitting alone in that room
with its dusty, ancient furniture
if not a god?
—Ted Kooser, Winter Morning Walks: One Hundred Postcards to Jim Harrison*

Thank you Ted Kooser for your example of grace and resilience. Here’s to you, from my 15th story window in Chicago.

January 10
(for Ted Kooser)

The chimneys breathe hard,
their vapors tumble and spin
like pale pixies
taunting: come outside
and play in the crystal magic.


*Printed with permission of the publisher, Carnegie Mellon University Press.