The Life and Poetry of Ted Kooser

By Mary K. Stillwell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
Moving Gibraltar

Once you were young along a river, tree to tree,
with sleek black wings and red shoulders.

—From “A Poetry Reading”

The year 1962 was one of important decisions and inevitable change. In love and impatient, Kooser and Tressler eloped the second week of January. Aided and abetted by friends Jack Winkler and Inge Mai Knutson, who serve as witnesses, they drove from Ames to Dixon, Illinois, about 150 miles west of Cedar Rapids, to be married by a justice of the peace on January 12. The marriage was a “prophylactic measure,” Kooser says, insurance against the repercussions of a possible pregnancy. Neither the bride’s nor groom’s parents were ever to learn about the Dixon nuptials.

Meanwhile, what seemed to be the constant, mysterious, and musical world of Guttenberg was beginning to crumble. Kooser’s grand-aunt, Laura Morarend Noack, had been laid to rest the previous March; his grandmother, Elizabeth Moser, died after a long illness on January 17, less than a week after her grandson’s marriage. Kooser returned with his family to Guttenberg for her funeral; freezing gusts blew in from the river, and the temperature dipped to 22 below.

-38-

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