Published Monthly

American Life in Poetry #51
by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate

What a marvelous gift is the imagination, and each of us gets one at birth, free of charge and ready to start up, get on, and ride away. Can there be anything quite so homely and ordinary as a steam radiator? And yet, here, Connie Wanek, of Duluth, Minnesota, nudges one into play. Radiator Mittens are drying on the radiator, boots nearby, one on its side. Like some monstrous segmented insect the radiator elongates under the window. Or it is a beast with many shoulders domesticated in the Ice Age. How many years it takes to move from room to room! Some cage their radiators but this is unnecessary as they have little desire to escape. Like turtles they are quite self-contained. If they seem sad, it is only the same sadness we all feel, unlovely, growing slowly cold.

Reprinted from "Bonfire," New Rivers Press, 1997, by permission of the author. Copyright 1997 by Connie Wanek. Her most recent book is "Hartley Field," from Holy Cow! Press. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

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