After 12 rejection letters over 15 years, Poetry Magazine published Todd's poem "The Hush of the Very Good," and followed it up with 15 more poems over the course of the next several years.
The poem, inspired by seeing a couple on a Minneapolis street corner engaged in a kiss, captures Todd's use of sound and rhythm to convey sensuality and build tension.
It was this poem that moved author Sherman Alexie to introduce Todd to his future publisher, W. W. Norton & Co.
Click here to hear Todd read this poem.
The Hush of the Very Good
You can tell by how he lists
to let her
kiss him, that the getting, as he gets it,
It’s good in the sweetly salty,
deeply thirsty way that a sea-fogged
rain is good after a summer-long bout
of inland drought.
And you know it
when you see it, don’t you? How it
drenches what’s dry, how the having
of it quenches.
There is a grassy inlet
where your ocean meets your land, a slip
that needs a certain kind of vessel,
when that shapely skiff skims in at last,
trimmed bright, mast lightly flagging
left and right,
then the long, lush reeds
of your longing part, and soft against
the hull of that bent wood almost im-
perceptibly brushes a luscious hush
the heart heeds helplessly—
of the very good.
"The Hush of the Very Good" appears in Todd's first poetry collection, Yellowrocket (2008, W. W. Norton & Co.).
Poetry at its best is sensual, a simultaneous fulfillment of all our senses, from the way it sometimes seems to whisper in your ear, right down to the sculptural "feel" of its shape on the page. We forget that literature is in fact physical: the eye, the ear, the finger on the line, all of it intent on satisfaction.