A Poem I Like #3


A Poem I Like #3

"lullaby" by Jacqueline Woodson

At night, every living thing competes
for a chance to be heard.
The crickets
and frogs call out.
Sometimes, there’s the soft
who-whoo of an owl lost
amid the pins.
Even the dogs won’t rest until
they’ve howled
at the moon.

But the crickets always win, long after the frogs stop croaking
and the owl has found its way home.
Long after the dogs have lain down
losing the battle against sleep,
the crickets keep going
as though they know their song
is our lullaby.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’m drawn to this poem for the way it brings life to a thing already so alive. Woodson injects a story into an all too common experience. So common in fact that it fades to the background of suburban life. Then, she waits until the very last line of the poem to introduce any human characters. For me, that is a reminder of how much beauty can spring forth when we return the spotlight to that which is beyond ourselves. We can all be extras in the movie of life, we just have to sit still and observe the world as it happens.

Something else that I find profound about this poem is its seamless commentary on consistency. The crickets do not sound the loudest; their chirp is easily drowned out by the barks, croaks, and hoots. But the crickets win in the end. They claim a victory that crowns them the iconic sound of backcountry. They are the melody that lulls us to sleep. They are the background noise we most remember. They are the essence of night time song. In the end the crickets won, because all the while they were never competing. The crickets knew exactly why they were chirping, and their purpose was unperturbed by the sounds of any animals offering contest. This gave the crickets consistency, and their consistency brought them victory and an identity that is everlasting…..even now crickets are chirping. I want that kind of consistency. I want that clarity of purpose. I want that drive that creates success as a byproduct. I do believe I am searching for it. At least I’ve been consistent in that.

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