Friday, February 03, 2006

And now for something completely different

A poem from one of my favorite contemporary authors, Jan Zwicky (a Canadian!). This is from her book Songs for Relinquishing the Earth, which I cannot too highly recommend.

Open Strings

E, laser of the ear, ear’s
vinegar, bagpipes
in a tux, the sky’s blue, pointed;

A, youngest of the four, cocksure
and vulnerable, the white kid
on the basketball team—immature,
ambitious, charming,
indispensable; apprenticed
to desire;

D is the tailor
who sewed the note “I shall always love you”
into the hem of the village belle’s wedding dress,
a note not discovered until ten years later in New York
where, poor and abandoned, she was ripping up the skirt
for curtains, and he came,
and he married her;

G, cathedral of the breastbone,
oak-light, earth;

it’s air they offer us,
but not the cool draught of their half-brothers
the harmonics, no,
a bigger wind, the body
snapped out like a towel, air
like the sky above the foothills,
like the desire to drown,
a place of worship,
a laying down of arms.
Open strings
are ambassadors from the republic of silence.
They are the name of that moment when you realize
clearly, for the first time,
you will die. After illness,
the first startled breath.

-- Jan Zwicky

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Obviously written by a cellist and not a bassist. Nice poem, anyway!