Here is a chair; there a music stand––
atop its ledge, a scribbled map
of what we will become. And who is the first
to grace the stage? Lady of the amber harp,
her spike heels anchored, her toes tapping
the pedals. The twang and tune of string
to string circles out as from a stone. Audience:
when notes reach your eardrum, do you sing
sotto voce, shift your hips to the beat,
the color of the room altered so slightly?
When I come to my seat at the center
of the woodwinds (principal flute), lightly
lift the silver tube, blow to spin the tones
of the faun from Debussy’s Prélude, will you see
what Mallarmé dreamed, a languid
summer afternoon? Finish the myth. We will soon
be warmed and ready to play.
Violins lift out of their velvet cases;
the tympanist leans in to the skin
of the drum. Opera glasses to faces,
listeners turn knobs. The concertmistress
strides on with a flick of her curls,
bows and nods the oboe a. Gingerly,
she perches, arranges her skirt, twirls
a peg to tighten a string. The maestro
takes the podium, his mouth not kind. I form
my lips into a whistle, pretend not to care
what impression I make. What harm
will come if it is not good? I spice
the c# like cinnamon. My sound, I relearn.
When the last note tapers, I leave the stage
at once, but certain I will return.