Here, where it is always noon,
Where noon and midnight are the same,
You wake, who will be leaving soon.
You will put on your strange new name
And learn to call the roundness moon
That shimmers in the window frame.
Here, where it is always noon,
You wake, who will be leaving soon.

Your language has no consonants.
No babble but a siren’s cry,
Imperious as an ambulance,
Yanks me upright, drains me dry,
Returns me to the languid trance
Of timelessness in which we lie.
Your language has no consonants,
Imperious as an ambulance.

Stranded on this shoal of time,
Abandoned by the ferryman,
You feel the way your fingers rhyme
Or swim in sleep, amphibian.
The nodding bells forget to chime,
The minutes halt their caravan.
Stranded on this shoal of time,
You feel the way your fingers rhyme.

Your gaze wanders the room and finds—
Alighting momentarily—
A mobile that the wind unwinds,
The shifting summer filigree
Of maple leaves behind the blinds,
My earrings gleaming. Dreamily,
Your gaze wanders the room and finds
A mobile that the wind unwinds.

You snatch at something bright and miss,
Watching it float beyond your reach.
You will remember none of this
Brief idyll on a desert beach
That curves, like a parenthesis,
Between the worlds of sea and speech.
You snatch at something bright, and miss.
You will remember none of this.

Mothers of older children say
I’ll drink the milk of Lethe too—
That soon I will have lost the way
Your scalp and belly smelled brand new,
The heft and texture of each day,
Your eyes’ opaque Atlantic blue.
Mothers of older children say
That soon I will have lost the way.

One day I’ll wake and you’ll be gone.
A sturdy stranger in your place
Will shake the bars and call at dawn,
Or stagger, laughing, while I give chase
Under these trees. But not the one
Who lay for hours, the windblown lace
Of sky and clouds, branches and sun
Reflected in her changing face.

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CATHERINE TUFARIELLO grew up in Amherst, New York, near Buffalo, and earned her B.A. in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo. As a doctoral student at Cornell University, she specialized in American poetry and wrote her dissertation on Whitman and Dickinson. She taught composition and literature for several years before joining the staff of the Project on Civic Reflection at Valparaiso University. There she learned that poetry is very much alive outside the classroom, and that it speaks to people engaged in doing all kinds of good work in the world.

Catherine’s first book, Keeping My Name (Texas Tech University Press), was a finalist for the 2005 Los Angeles Times Book Award in Poetry and won the 2006 Poets’ Prize. Her poems have appeared widely in anthologies, including Western Wind, The Seagull Reader, and The Sparrow Anthology of New American Poets. She has had poems featured online on The Writers’ Almanac and Poetry Daily, and recent work has appeared in The Dark Horse, River Styx, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Valparaiso, Indiana with her husband (the celebrated legal limericist Jeremy Telman), her 9-year-old daughter Sophia, and two elderly tabbies, Ozzie and Harriet.

17 responses to “Aubade”

  1. Lori says:

    This is really good!! I have never been good with words to formulate something like this poem. I’m a mother of three and found myself remembering my kids at this age. Time truly gets faster as you get older. This poem has helped me to remember to cherish each moment of your life because you can only live it once.

  2. Lois Reiner says:

    Catherine Tufariello’s poetry is a magic carpet ride! I love her book…Keeping My Name…and I lve this poem’s beat, message, song!
    Hurrah for Catherine!

  3. Simon Smithson says:

    “But not the one
    Who lay for hours, the windblown lace
    Of sky and clouds, branches and sun
    Reflected in her changing face.”

    You drew so many images in to bear in the previous stanzas, Catherine, then ended with such a peacefully graceful image. Beautiful.

    Welcome to TNB!

  4. What a beautiful meditation, Catherine. So lyrical, so touching. Great to have you as part of the TNB family.

  5. Catherine Tufariello says:

    Thank you all for the nice comments and the warm welcome! It’s great to be on TNB.

  6. Greg Olear says:

    My goodness, what a fantastic poem. (And what a pleasure, to read a poem that reads like a poem.)

    Today happens to be the last day of my son’s preschool, so the subject is heavy on my own mind…

  7. Art Edwards says:

    My goodness, that was lovely.


  8. Gloria says:

    Wow. Nothing has brought me to tears like this since I read I Love You Forever – only this is better. Way better. It’s soft and lilting and achingly beautiful and it makes me sad with nostalgia.

    Really, really wonderful. Thank you.

  9. Mindy Mcready says:

    Long Live! the Lady in White! that beams a light through keyhole door.

    “Stranded on this shoal of time,
    Abandoned by the ferryman,
    You feel the way your fingers rhyme
    Or swim in sleep, amphibian.
    The nodding bells forget to chime,
    The minutes halt their caravan.
    Stranded on this shoal of time,
    You feel the way your fingers rhyme.”

    Would love to hear a voice to this , if only Ida Lupino were still alive….do you sound like Ida Lupino?? if not a femme maternal voice is suffice.

    Hope you raise her to be a super hero

  10. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Truth rings clear as a bell from this poem, perfectly modulated in its lyricism. I think I’m trying to say it’s really great. I also love the form. It’s so elegent in its gentle insistence.

    Readers, I’d like to mention that Catherine offers some very interesting insight into the process of creating this poem in her thoughtful, engaging self-interview, which ranges from poetics to the fun-house mirror nature of Netflix recommendations.


    Catherine, I’m am so thrilled to have you here at TNB. You are my favorite poet writing at the moment.

  11. Uche Ogbuji says:

    Oh I also forgot to mention that another of Catherine’s poems has appeared here at TNB in the past. She was kind enough to give me permission to post her wonderful poem “Useful Advice” in my article “Poetry for the Nervous, Vol 2: What’s useful?.”


  12. My husband (Greg Olear – see above) – sent me a link to read this.
    It’s 6am, as I read this, I’m a crying mess.
    I haven’t even had coffee yet.
    You got me at “One day I’ll awake and you’ll be gone”
    that slays me – because if all goes well, it’s true.
    And the “heft” you describe – we carry these babies and know their
    every movement – we are their memories that they will never know.
    And they’ll go off into the world and get tattoos and degrees and who knows what else.
    And I’ll never forget the meeting them and looking in their eyes – and I was their world.

    Thanks for this – I look forward to reading more from you.

  13. Catherine Tufariello says:

    These sweet and appreciative comments have made my week–thank you all so much. There’s nothing like the feeling of knowing that one of your poems–created in solitude, out of “pure delight and self-delight,” as Richard Wilbur says somewhere–has spoken to and meant something to other people. Mindy, alas, I’m no singer! But I’ve always thought it would be extremely cool to have one of my poems set to music, and I’m pleased that you find “Aubade” song-like.

    This site has been a real revelation to me. Such a lively, talented, supportive group of writers, most of whom I didn’t know before. I’m very happy to be here.

  14. […] Tufariello, Catherine — Aubade […]

  15. […] CATHERINE TUFARIELLO shares her magnificent motherhood poem, “Aubade.” […]

  16. […] Tufariello, Catherine — Aubade […]

  17. […] The poet CATHERINE TUFARIELLO immortalizes her baby’s babyhood. […]

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