Every poet has an image of the ideal reader,
and the not-so-ideal reader.
Selecting a Reader
First, I would have her be beautiful,
and walking carefully up on my poetry
at the loneliest moment of an afternoon,
her hair still damp at the neck
from washing it. She should be wearing
a raincoat, an old one, dirty
from not having money enough for the cleaners.
She will take out her glasses, and there
in the bookstore, she will thumb
over my poems, then put the book back
up on its shelf. She will say to herself,
"For that kind of money, I can get
my raincoat cleaned." And she will.
from Sure Signs, 1980
University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Copyright 1980 by Ted Kooser.
All rights reserved.
Reproduced with permission (click for permissions information).