January 28, 2007|By Ted Kooser | Ted Kooser,Special to the Sun

Literature -- and in this instance, poetry -- holds a mirror to life; thus the great themes of life become the great themes of poems. Here the distinguished American poet John Haines addresses -- and celebrates through the affirmation of poetry -- our preoccupation with aging and mortality.

--Ted Kooser

"Young Man"

I seemed always standing

before a door

to which I had no key,

although I knew it hid behind it

a gift for me.

Until one day I closed

my eyes a moment, stretched

then looked once more.

And not surprised, I did not mind it

when the hinges creaked

and, smiling, Death

held out his hands to me.

Ted Kooser was U.S. poet laureate, 2004-06. Copyright 2006 by John Haines. Reprinted from ?ABZ: A Poetry Magazine,? No. 1, 2006, by permission of the author. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

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