American Life in Poetry: Column 349
BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE
Here’s a fine poem about a cricket by Catherine Tufariello, who lives in Indiana. I especially admire the way in which she uses rhyme without it ever taking control of the poetry, the way rhyme can.
The Cricket in the Sump
He falls abruptly silent when we fling
A basket down or bang the dryer shut,
But soon takes up again where he left off.
Swept by a rainstorm through a narrow trough
Clotted with cobwebs into Lord knows what
Impenetrable murk, he’s undeterred—
You’d think his dauntless solo was a chorus,
This rusty sump, a field or forest spring.
And there is something wondrous and absurd
About the way he does as he is bidden
By instinct, with his gift for staying hidden
While making sure unseen is plainly heard.
All afternoon his tremolo ascends
Clear to the second story, where a girl
Who also has learned blithely to ignore us
Sings to herself behind her bedroom door.
Maybe she moves to her invented score
With a conductor’s flourish, or pretends
She’s a Spanish dancer, lost in stamp and whirl
And waving fan—notes floating, as she plays,
Through the open window where the willow sways
And shimmers, humming to another string.
There is no story where the story ends.
What does a singer live for but to sing?
We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2010 by Catherine Tufariello, whose first book of poetry is Keeping My Name, Texas Tech, 2004. Reprinted from Able Muse, Inaugural Print Issue, Winter 2010, by permission of Catherine Tufariello and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2019 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 2004-2006.