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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.

—Ted Kooser

From Sure Signs, 1980
University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Copyright 1980 by Ted Kooser.
All rights reserved.

Reprinted by permission of the University of Pittsburgh Press from Sure Signs. Copyright 1980 by Ted Kooser. For further permissions information, contact Rights and Permissions Dept., University of Pittsburgh Press, Eureka Building/Fifth Floor, 3400 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15260 or

Poetry 180

About the Poet

Ted Kooser (1939- ) served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 to 2006. He is the author of twelve poetry collections, including Splitting an Order (Copper Canyon Press, 2014).

Learn more about Ted Kooser at The Poetry Foundation.