American Life in Poetry

Emilie Buchwald was the co-publisher and founding editor of Milkweed Editions in Minneapolis going on forty years ago, and that press grew up to become one of the finest literary publishers in our country. Today she edits children’s books at Gryphon Press, which she also founded. Here’s a lovely remembrance from her new book, “The Moment’s Only Moment,” from Nodin Press.

My Mother’s Music

In the evenings of my childhood,

when I went to bed,

music washed into the cove of my room,

my door open to a slice of light.

I felt a melancholy I couldn’t have named,

a longing for what I couldn’t yet have said

or understood but still

knew was longing,

knew was sadness

untouched by time.


the music was a rippling stream

of clear water rushing

over a bed of river stones

caught in sunlight.

And many nights

I crept from bed

to watch her

swaying where she sat

overtaken by the tide,

her arms rowing the music

out of the piano.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It also is supported by the department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Introduction copyright 2014 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. Unsolicited manuscripts are not accepted.