Poems February 2018
Pictures of Mozart
My brother, who was too young, remembers
nothing of the tunnels, where the radio stopped
playing its music. On the other side: trees,
a frozen lake. At the Geburtshaus,
where the Mozarts had lived on the third floor, I bought
a book of postcards, each
with a different portrait of Mozart. The famous one
with the red coat. One with his father,
Leopold, and his sister,
his mother behind them
in a painting on the wall. In another, standing
on a piano bench, he is a boy,
but already he has a man’s concerns.
Like the boy, I was turning six. It was a new Europe,
my parents said a wall had fallen, they were not
yet thirty-five. He wore a wig
and tucked one hand into the golden pleat
of a purple vest. I was learning to play
on a white piano. A pyramid-
shaped metronome, a sphinx on top.
It looked like a scene from The Magic Flute.
The sixteenth notes were the hieroglyphics.
I tucked the postcards into the sleeves
of my photo album, next to pictures of my brother and me.
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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 36 Number 6, on page 29
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