Voices

April 30, 2006|By TED KOOSER

When I complained about some of the tedious jobs I had as a boy, my mother would tell me, "Ted, all work is honorable." In this poem, Don Welch gives us a man who's been fixing barbed wire fences all his life. - Ted Kooser

"At the Edge of Town"

Hard to know which is more gnarled, the posts he hammers staples into or the blue hummocks which run across his hands like molehills.

Work has reduced his wrists to bones, cut out of him the easy flesh and brought him down to this, the crowbar's teeth

caught just behind a barb. Again this morning the crowbar's neck will make its blue slip into wood,

there will be that moment when too much strength will cause the wire to break. But even at 70, he says,

he has to have it right, and more than right. This morning, in the pewter light, he has the scars to prove it.

Ted Kooser is U.S poet laureate. From "Gutter Flowers," Logan House, 2005 Copyright 2005 by Don Welch and reprinted by permission

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