American Life in Poetry: Column 043
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
Lola Haskins, who lives in Florida, has written a number of poems about musical terms, entitled “Adagio,” “Allegrissimo,” “Staccato,” and so on. Here is just one of those, presenting the gentleness of pianissimo playing through a series of comparisons.
To Play Pianissimo
Does not mean silence.
The absence of moon in the day sky
Does not mean barely to speak,
the way a child’s whisper
makes only warm air
on his mother’s right ear.
To play pianissimo
is to carry sweet words
to the old woman in the last dark row
who cannot hear anything else,
and to lay them across her lap like a shawl.
From “Desire Lines: New and Selected Poems,” BOA Editions, Rochester, NY. Copyright (c) 2004 by Lola Haskins and reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.