American Life in Poetry
Column 420; by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate
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, poem by Jeff Daniel Marion
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.
about American Life in Poetry
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 ©2007 by Nancy Price from her book of poetry Two Voices and a Moon, Malmarie Press, 2007. Reprinted by permission of Nancy Price and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2012 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. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.