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.

New to The New Criterion?

Subscribe for one year to receive ten print issues, and gain immediate access to our online archive spanning more than four decades of art and cultural criticism.

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 36 Number 6, on page 29
Copyright © 2023 The New Criterion |