A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
“Demon or bird! (said the boy’s soul,)
Is it indeed toward your mate you sing?
or is it really to me?
–“Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking” — Walt Whitman
You came to singing as a child, voice made
of light and air, rain and dust storms:
a little girl caroling and plain in the mirror,
small imitative bird, velvet snare of impulse
binding you to vision. Now, Puccini
at twilight: two voices rising and falling
in the depths of La Scala’s red brocade mouth.
Pinkerton and that princess Damrau,
together: in the background the pyre
of conquest. Butterfly dies for love beautifully;
at its apogee the moon shatters in her throat.
The critic next to you nods: Please, tremulous
diva die again—your hair a mane down your back,
the knife glinting in your small ivory hand.
You leave the opera replenished, arms
in your silk jacket swinging freely, clutch
with its rhinestone; the cheap single ticket
drifts away along the curb, into the river.
You do not see that the sidewalk is underwater,
that lamps glow at the bottom. In a trattoria
you drink a glass of forgetfulness; the stranger
next to you looks, looks away. Back out
to the street, you reorient yourself by the few
visible stars, unbind your hair; you walk quickly:
there is someone you know too well in
the shimmering windows. Placer y lagrimas,
pleasure and tears tonight: you retreat to your lair,
stripping yourself of that tasteful boutique suit,
those low-heeled dancing shoes: and then some
light rain within, a batik scrim of trees leaning out
of the past–ghosts of lovers only half-forgotten,
your own voice rising with unfettered
and unscored yearning that measure for measure,
cascades like jubilant water through the dark.
Copyright 2014 Jenne’ R. Andrews