Poem of the Week, by Karla Kuskin

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When my children were little one of our favorite books was The Philharmonic Gets Dressed. Such a simple story. In apartments all over New York City, orchestra musicians are dressing for the evening performance. Everyone wears black. They muscle their instruments, large and small, into cabs and the subway, and they head to work. My children and I read this book over and over, usually at bedtime, where it soothed their way into sleep.

Books like this tantalize me, because the author took something familiar –an orchestra–and focused on the unfamiliar. Musicians not in their orchestra pit at a grand hall, but at home, getting dressed. The backstory. The unthought-about. It’s dangerous to think you know everything about something or someone. It leads to complacency, to boredom, and sometimes to destruction.

When I read this poem below, The Philharmonic Gets Dressed floated back into my mind. And lo and behold, look who was the quiet genius behind both.  

Write About a Radish, by Karla Kuskin

Write about a radish
Too many people write about the moon.

The night is black
The stars are small and high
The clock unwinds its ever-ticking tune
Hills gleam dimly
Distant nighthawks cry.
A radish rises in the waiting sky.

For more information about Karla Kuskin, please click here.


My podcast: Words by Winter

Note: this post first appeared here in September, 2018.


  1. sahagens · January 21

    Oh my…I love it. Write about a radish would be a delicious prompt. Maybe I will. Hope you got my thank you. It got longer than I intended so I apologize. Sheilagh My giraffe says good morning.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. alisonmcghee · January 21

    Oh my goodness, Sheilagh – I knew I’d replied to your beautiful message but when I looked it up, my reply was sitting there as a draft. I just sent it. Give Giraffe a salute from me, will you? xo


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