Mudlark No. 41 (2010)


Your scherzo is merely frantic,
and tune your A string,
she admonishes the boy with the magnificent hair,
with whom she will send away cookies
and fantasies of her bracelets, her perfume.
Believe your bowing wrist is a ballerina’s brain.
    (As if she does not know how the trashmen live,
    the fruit vendors and the cabbies’ wives.)
G sharp is the secret necessity, hear it, hear it,
she coaxes the Korean sister with the waiting heart.
What you smell, dear, is my onion soup cooking.
    (As if he had not struck her,
    twice, that last winter.)
Schubert stands beside you on a rocky shore,
confessing everything to the sea,
she exhorts the sister with the impatient legato,
who takes note of the elegant wallpaper in the bath,
of the pillows, the plants, the African carving,
and the painting that looks like a Cezanne.
    (As if, awaking this morning, she did not say,
    again, I have survived.)
Acid, inject acid into these classical banalities,
or here are shrewd lovers at play,
she importunes her eight o’clock, ten, or two,
who applaud her at the Philharmonic,
third chair off the aisle
in the row behind the concertmaster.
    ( As if she has learned nothing from the graffiti
    or th cyclists in the park.)
You are watching someone pray,
she intones for the prodigies of October and March.
    (As if so much of life is not absurd.)
The earth is sunning itself in an orderly universe,
she exclaims for them all.
    (As if she had not waited for him
    those endless weeks in Mexico City.
    As if some part of herself
    does not always know the truth.)

Oliver Rice | Mudlark No. 41 (2010)
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