“L’amour est un oiseau rebelle.” ~ Bizet
Aragonaise (the simplified arrangement for piano),
by Bizet, from “Carmen”— I remember a well-thumbed music book
covered with pinched pencil lettering, the weeks it took to learn.
Did the nuns who taught us, drill frozen arpeggios from our wrists?
Every girl one girl in a blue and white uniform with a straight face.
From deep in the lilac, the warble of a tree sparrow rose,
grew a little warmer, coloring like a flame
hovering just on the edge of what little we knew.
It’s possible some of us could imagine Carmen in
jail, possessive lovers; seduction, jealousy, dark rage
kindling in the breast and nearby in the meadow, bulls
lifting their feet, snorting, ready for the charge.
My own instinct is never to give anything away:
not a hint of what I’m feeling inside, though
often enough it’s worry or confusion costumed
poorly by bravura. Ruffles, a rose, a skirt
quilted in deepest red. At the sweetest passage,
read the notes, play them like they’re violets about to be
surrendered under the hooves of the heaving animal.
There’s no way to learn that simply by rote,
understanding how things measure out. Years later,
veer toward this music again as it drifts,
wayward thread unhooked from memory.
Exactly how do you know when the song has reached
you, claimed you? When its naked feet stamp out the flame,
zero in on what it loves, dagger aimed at the heart.
In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.
OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES
- Landscape, in the Aftermath of Flood
- A Carol
- Little Winter Song
- Because it is years since I last saw you
- Landscape, with Remnants of a Tale
- En Crépinette
- My mother turns 78 and texts
- [poem temporarily removed by author]
- [post temporarily removed by author]
- Dark Body
- Chalk Circle
- Private: To the unrepeatable life, the poet writes
- Tarot: False Spring
- Making Dinner, I Hear Rostropovich on the Radio
- Field Notes
- Road Trip, ca. 1980
- Gold Study
- Ghazal Par Amour
- White List
- Dear noisy stream gurgling in the distance,
- First, Blood
- Rock, Paper, Scissors
- Thread and Surface
- Diorama, with Mountain City and Fog
- Preparing the Balikbayan Box
- The Jewel in the Fruit
- Landscape, with Geese; and Later, Falling Snow
- Landscape, with Threads of Conversation
- First One, Then the Other
- To Silence
- Morning, Cape Town
- Empty Ghazal
- High in the hills, the dead
- Dear unseen one,
- Saturday Afternoon at the Y
- Dear Epictetus, this is to you attributed:
- How have I failed to notice until now
- Field Note
- Dear shadow,