{A Bumbershoot Special Feature}

Catherine Tufariello

was born in Ithaca, New York, in 1963. Raised in Amherst, near Buffalo, she received her B.A. in English from The State University of New York at Buffalo, and a Ph.D. from Cornell University, with a doctoral thesis on the poetry of Dickinson and Whitman.

Her two poetry chapbooks, Annunciations (Aralia Press) and Free Time (Robert L. Barth), both appeared in 2001.  Keeping My Name, her first full-length collection (Texas Tech University Press, 2004), won both the Walt McDonald First-Book Award in Poetry and The Poets’ Prize.  Among her publication credits are The Hudson Review, Poetry, and anthologies such as The New Penguin Book of Love Poetry and Western Wind.

Catherine lives with her husband and daughter in Valparaiso, Indiana, where she is a staff member at the Project on Civic Reflection at Valparaiso University.

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Five Riddles

This fabulous palace
Is built on the sands,
With eighty-eight hammers
And only two hands.
Try as you might,
You can’t make it stay.
The last hammer falls,
And the walls wash away.



It has miles of hallways and hundreds of rooms,
No doors and no windows. Here nothing blooms.
Breath without life stirs in these tombs.
Six times. What is his name?



When I was born, trembling and thirsty,
It was my dad who warmed and nursed me.
I thought mom didn’t care about me
Because she’d gone to sea without me,
Missing my birthday, which seemed rude.
(But later she showed up with food.)



A moon with three craters—
A rumble—a crash—
Ten soldiers fallen
With never a flash.



This army swarms the field
With neither boots nor guns;
This single cloud of snow
Can sow a hundred suns.