Thursday, May 9, 2013


AMONG THE BASSOON

                                                            for David Adam Nagy



Fl├╝gel, grand piano
piano with a wing
uplifted,
             shadow of the raised top
on the conservatory wall—
gnomon of the sundial
cast by the low-slung light
dramatic lighting
                              and the bassoon.

2.
Bach first.  Prelude
to everything
else,
          he
is our B.C., the primal one,
the tone
             cast on all time to come
the shadow
of the bassoon rises and falls.

This instrument
always sounds wrong,
comes from outside music
from a land of being,
of suffering and running away
and coming home,
                              wrong
by its nature, the way nature
is wrong too,
                    as if a beast had to die
in pain to breathe such sounds,

but that’s only natural,
nature’s like that,
                              sings
truest as it goes.
Goes away.
                    Shadows
dimming into the dark.
Cherry blossoms
falling in the prime.

3.
Or on our little island
there is a single solitary tree
in the graveyard,
                              a paulownia
or princess tree,
its flowers come before the leaves
and when those fragrant purple blossoms fall
they leave seed capsules behind,
pointed ovals,
                    hollow, cracking open, hard,
hollow as wood, hollow as the sound of the bassoon.

4.
He transposes what Beethoven
heard (or wanted to hear)
on the cello for the bassoon.
A rounded box with strings
becomes a man with breath
pouting into a hollow tube
though quivering reeds.

American day aj, day of the reed,
tube, rushes, human spine
up which all the messages pass
or sing, trying to reach the mother brain
so far below the music.

5.
Seize the moment
the music doesn’t last,
the pretty girl is pretty
for a minute
then the tide comes in
goes out again and the house
is empty, sea-birds
noisy on the cliffs,
if you’re lucky there’s
still a wind for you to hear.

6.
The look on our faces
is to be heard.
Listeners are performers too.
Eyes open in the light
receiving light, the ears
too are ridden by some
sorrow that comes before
anything we ever knew
to make us sad,
                                        a requiem
built into the nature of the world,

a mortal sorrow
before anyone ever died,
like that village
the Buddha sent the mother to
to find her dead child.

7.
All the bodies with their breaths and fingers
all together now understanding out loud,
make us be the animal we pretend to be,
human love human fear human history
and we are really nothing at all but
bright joyous spirit playing brief on a field of ash



                                                                      13 April 2013