Before walking to work, and in still-falling snow,
my father in hat, suit, topcoat, and galoshes
would scoop our sidewalk. Only a few sounds
came in to me out of the predawn darkness:
the scrapes of not one but two shovels, each scrape
with a tap at the end to knock off the snow, then
a word or two, muffled, back and forth between
my father and our next-door neighbor, Elmo Mallo,
who was out shoveling, too. And later, after both
had gone to work and I’d be setting out for school,
I’d see their boot prints—can see them still, after
seventy years—my father’s on one side of the line
where their shovels met, and Mr. Mallo’s on the other.
From Red Stilts by Ted Kooser. Used with permission from Copper Canyon Press. Copyright © 2020.