American Life in Poetry: Column 094
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE, 2004-2006
While many of the poems we feature in this
column are written in open forms,that's not
to say I don't respect good writing done
in traditional meter and rhyme. But a number
of contemporary poets, knowing how a rigid
attachment to form can take charge of the writing
and drag the poet along behind, will choose, say,
the traditional villanelle form, then relax its
restraints through the use of broken rhythm and
inexact rhymes. I'd guess that if I weren't talking
about it, you might not notice, reading this poem by
Floyd Skloot, that you were reading a sonnet.
My wife wears headphones as she plays
Chopin etudes in the winter light.
Singing random notes, she sways
in and out of shadow while night
settles. The keys she presses make a soft
clack, the bench creaks when her weight shifts,
golden cotton fabric ripples across
her shoulders, and the sustain pedal clicks.
This is the hidden melody I know
so well, her body finding harmony in
the give and take of motion, her lyric
grace of gesture measured against a slow
fall of darkness. Now stillness descends
to signal the end of her silent music.
Reprinted from "Prairie Schooner," Volume 80,
Number 2 (Summer, 2006) by permission of the
University of Nebraska Press. Copyright (c) 2006
by the University of Nebraska Press. Floyd Skloot's
most recent book is "The End ofDreams," 2006. This
column is supported by The Poetry Foundation,
The Library of Congress, and the Department of
English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
This column doesnot accept unsolicited poetry.