Abandoned Farmhouse

By Ted Kooser

He was a big man, says the size of his shoes

on a pile of broken dishes by the house;

a tall man too, says the length of the bed

in an upstairs room; and a good, God fearing man,

says the Bible with a broken back 

on the floor below the window, dusty with sun;

but not a man for farming, says the fields

cluttered with boulders and the leaky barn.


A woman lived with him, says the bedroom wall

papered with lilacs and the kitchen shelves 

covered with oilcloth, and they has a child, says the sandbox made from a tractor tire.

Money was scarce, say the jars of plum preserves

and canned tomatoes sealed in the cellar hold.

And the winters cold, say the rags in the window frame.

It was lonely here, says the narrow country road.


Something went wrong, says the empty house

in the weed-choked yard. Stones in the fields

say he was not a farmer; the still-sealed jars 

in the cellar say she left in a nervous haste.

And the child? Its toys are strewn in the yard

like branches after a storm -- a rubber cow,

a rusty tractor with a broken plow,

a doll in overalls. Something went wrong, they say.

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