At the beginning of the famous novel, "Remembrance of Things Past," the mere taste of a biscuit started Marcel Proust on a seven-volume...
At the beginning of the famous novel, “Remembrance of Things Past,” the mere taste of a biscuit started Marcel Proust on a seven-volume remembrance. Here a bulldozer turns up an old door-knob, and look what happens in Shirley Buettner’s imagination.
— Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate
While clearing the west
quarter for more cropland,
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the Cat quarried
a porcelain doorknob
oystered in earth,
grained and crazed
like an historic egg,
with a screwless stem of
rusted and pitted iron.
I turn its cold white roundness
with my palm and
open the oak door
fitted with oval glass,
fretted with wood ivy,
and call my frontier neighbor.
Her voice comes distant but
clear, scolding children
and highbutton shoes.
A bucket of fresh eggs and
a clutch of rhubarb rest
on her daisied oil-cloth.
She knew I would knock someday,
— Shirley Buettner
From “Walking Out the Dark” (Juniper Press, 1984). Copyright © 1984 by Shirley Buettner and reprinted by permission of the author. 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. “American Life in Poetry” appears Fridays in Northwest Life.