This entry is part 27 of 73 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2011-12


“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.

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