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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.

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.


Reprinted from Prairie Schooner, Vol. 80, No. 2 (Summer, 2006) by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright 2006 by the University of Nebraska Press. Floyd Skloot's most recent book is The End of Dreams, 2006, Louisiana State University Press. 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.

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