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Lola Haskins, who lives in Florida, has written a number of poems about musical terms, entitled "Adagio," "Allegrissimo," "Staccato" and so on. Here is just one of those, presenting the gentleness of pianissimo playing through a series of comparisons.

To Play Pianissimo

Does not mean silence.

The absence of moon in the day sky

for example.

Does not mean barely to speak,

the way a child's whisper

makes only warm air

on his mother's right ear.

To play pianissimo

is to carry sweet words

to the old woman in the last dark row

who cannot hear anything else,

and to lay them across her lap like a shawl.


From Desire Lines: New and Selected Poems, BOA Editions, Rochester, N.Y. Copyright 2004 by Lola Haskins and reprinted by permission of the author and the publisher. 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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