It looks lonely there untouched by any human hand,
A wing grown stolid now that it has been stalled,
Chockablock, as if it made its way from some far Cubist land.
The poet may get this feeling, having written but not struck home:
No one to memorize his lines, no vocal chords to quiver—
Just this stillness of a wilderness in which he chose to roam.
The instrument, magnificent, meant to sing, to sigh, to roar—
It has been used and used and used, but now this desuetude:
No one is sitting in the audience, no one is coming in the door.
Still, I am here, and run my fingers on the unused keys—
It seems a flight of doves has broken from the brilliant mouth
As if to bless the fact that I sit down, make music as I please.
Pax vobiscum. Project! Project! The birds light in the rows.
The crowds are coming in from here, there, from Cubist land—
How many you can hold in thrall at last God only knows.
The wild, the tender strain, the simple passage, and the one of guile—
I stand, look into the dark, the strings like pulsing vocal chords:
The poet, a long-lost brother, is coming down the aisle.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 6 Number 3, on page 43
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