American Life in Poetry
A feature provided by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-2006
Poetry has room for everything and everybody,
for every subject and object. Here’s a poem by Sharon Chmielarz, a Minnesota
poet, on a subject I’ve never seen written about. And poetry, and American
Life in Poetry in particular, now welcomes pillow cleaners!
The Pillow Cleaners Come to Town
and turn the senior citizen center
into an automated assembly line.
Goodbye, dross of long winter nights.
Farewell, old skin cells and reek:
what couldn’t come clean on a clothesline.
Bundles of pillows, caroming, bouncing,
sloshing along, even as more
mistresses of pillows hurry through the door,
hugging stained sacks of feathers
like thoughts kept well past prime.
Sure, they should’ve been thrown out
long ago but—we paid so dearly for them.
American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Introduction copyright © 2009 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.