System of care

This is part 3 in a series of solo piano pieces I’ve based on Ted Kooser’s poem Flying at Night ( To see the other two, check out the video section to the right.

This is based on the lines:

some farmer, feeling the chill of that distant death/
snaps on his yard light, drawing his sheds and barn/
back into the little system of his care

These lines present a humble, more personal image of a “system” than the nameless galaxy dissolving billions of miles away in the previous lines. I picture this weathered farmer making one last check of things before turning in for the night, maybe humming a melody like this to himself. The phrase “system of his care,” is a favorite of mine from this poem, and for me invites the comparison of the farmer to God as caretaker, esp. against the “chill of death.” As such, the music is a simple improvisation meant to convey something like a hymn without words.

Of course, I think Kooser’s intent with this section is somewhat different, probably more along the lines of inviting the reader to wonder if the fate of the farm will be that of the galaxy mentioned in the previous lines of the poem (a comparison he invites in the last lines of the poem, more on that later). Here’s hoping he’d forgive me for taking liberties.

3 thoughts on “System of care

  1. Beautiful. A perfect compliment and contrast (is that possible) to A Galaxy Dies. Loved listening/watching/experiencing them back to back.

  2. @Kara, thanks, an offering was my intent, glad it came across that way

    @Ryan, you know, in the poem those verses also strike me as a compliment and a contrast, the image of the distant galaxy and then the very earthbound farm. Great way to describe it.

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