January 21, 2007|By Ted Kooser

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.

- Ted Kooser

"Silent Music"

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.

Ted Kooser was U.S. poet laureate, 2004-06. Copyright 2006 by the University of Nebraska Press. Reprinted from ?Prairie Schooner,? Summer 2006, by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

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