Ted Kooser: American life in poetry April 14, 2013

Ted Kooser: American life in poetry April 14, 2013

There's something wonderful about happening upon a musician playing for his or her own pleasure, completely absorbed in the music. Jeff Daniel Marion is a fine poet from east Tennessee. And here's a woman playing the bagpipes.

Playing to the River

She stands by the riverbank,

notes from her bagpipes lapping

across to us as we wait

for the traffic light to change.

She does not know we hear —

she is playing to the river,

a song for the water, the flow

of an unknown melody to the rocky

bluffs beyond, for the mist

that was this morning, shroud

of past lives: fishermen

and riverboat gamblers, tugboat captains

and log raftsmen, pioneer and native

slipping through the eddies of time.

She plays for them all, both dirge

and surging hymn, for what has passed

and is passing as we slip

into the currents of traffic,

the changed light bearing us away.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (http://www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright 2012 by Ron Koertge, whose most recent book of poems is "Fever" (Red Hen Press, 2006). Poem reprinted by permission of Koertge. Introduction copyright 2013 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004 to '06. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

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