- There is at least one pair
- in every thrift shop in America,
- molded in plastic or plaster of paris
- and glued to a plaque,
- or printed in church-pamphlet colors
- and framed under glass.
- Today I saw a pair made out of
- lightweight wire stretched over a pattern
- of finishing nails.
- This is the way faith goes
- from door to door,
- cast out of one and welcomed at another.
- A butterfly presses its wings like that
- as it rests between flowers.
Ted Kooser, who was born in Ames, Iowa, on April 25, 1939, was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2004 to 2006. Librarian of Congress James Billington said of his appointment: “Ted Kooser is a major poetic voice for rural and small town America and the first Poet Laureate chosen from the Great Plains. His verse reaches beyond his native region to touch on universal themes in accessible ways.” In 2005, a year after his appointment as Poet Laureate, Kooser was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. A master of the brief, imagistic lyric and a poet of precision and gracious humanity, Kooser is one of America’s most accomplished poets. He lives near Garland, Nebraska, with his wife Kathleen Rutledge, former editor of the Lincoln Journal Star. “Praying Hands” is from his collection Delights and Shadows, published by Copper Canyon Press. It is used here by permission.