American Life in Poetry: Column 088
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006
This wistful poem by Christopher Chambers
shows how the familiar and the odd, the real
and imaginary, exist side by side. A Midwestern
father transforms himself from a staid
businessman into a rock-n-roll star, reclaiming
a piece of his imaginary youth. In the end,
it shows how fragile moments might be recovered
to offer a glimpse into our inner lives.
My Father Holds the Door for Yoko Ono
In New York City for a conference
on weed control, leaving the hotel
in a cluster of horticulturalists,
he alone stops, midwestern, crewcut,
narrow blue tie, cufflinks, wingtips,
holds the door for the Asian woman
in a miniskirt and thigh high
white leather boots. She nods
slightly, a sad and beautiful gesture.
Neither smile, as if performing
a timeless ritual, as if anticipating
the loss of a son or a lover.
Years later, Christmas, inexplicably
he dons my mother's auburn wig,
my brother's wire-rimmed glasses,
and strikes a pose clowning
with my second hand acoustic guitar.
He is transformed, a working class hero
and a door whispers shut,
like cherry blossoms falling.
Reprinted from "Folio," Winter, 2004,
by permission of the author. Copyright (c) 2004
by Christopher Chambers, who teaches creative
writing at Loyola University New Orleans. 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