A Person of Limited Palette by Ted Kooser

A Person of Limited Palette

I would love to have lived out my years
in a cottage a few blocks from the sea,
and to have spent my mornings painting
out in the cold, wet rocks, to be known
as “a local artist,” a pleasant old man
who “paints passably well, in a traditional
manner,” though a person of limited
talent, of limited palette: earth tones
and predictable blues, snap-brim cloth cap
and cardigan, baggy old trousers
and comfortable shoes, but none of this
shall come to pass, for every day
the possibilities grow fewer, like swallows
in autumn. If you should come looking
for me, you’ll find me here, in Nebraska,
thirty miles south of the broad Platte River,
right under the flyway of dreams.


Over the pandemic, I’ve been walking a lot. Well, I was up until the middle of December, when I got a membership at a gym with a pool. Now I swim most days. It’s easier on the joints and hits that sweet spot of low-intensity exercise that my nearly 50-year-old bones thrive on, which has led to making me much healthier these days.

But this morning I went for a walk. We are having a cold snap here – 40ish today, with lows in the 20’s tonight, but it’s bright and clear and the sky is that sort of blue that would cause a poet to write. So I went walking.

Because I’m not a poet.

Despite not really walking these last few months, the swimming seems to have kept my fitness levels where they were. My joints were unhurt, my breathing unaffected, my pace unaltered.

And it’s my favorite time of year in Mississippi – the azaleas are blooming, the daffodils are in full swing, the birds are happy.

And so am I.