Wednesday, July 07, 2010

What Is Passing and What Remains

after String Quartet in B flat major, D 132 by Franz Schbert

For Daniel Arthur Read 
March 8, 1950 - May 25,2010

Allegro ma non troppo

The cloudless sky,
warmth on skin,
and in the heart

is the sky over Schipol;
all Dutch,
all the possible shades of gray,
iridescent over a swath of new green.

In the late days there was little sense to be made.
In the late days there was waiting 
and a kind of prayer
that you would
find peace.

In the late days,
just before you stopped talking,
I played Schubert's 8th Quartet for you. 

In the voice of the cello, I could hear the sound of your mind leaving.
In the interplay of the violin and cello, I could hear that you knew
that your life was coming to a close and you would be passing into
whatever new form you would have.
In the interplay, I could hear the tugs of 
not just mine, but so many
hearts shattering in pieces,
again and again. 

(be without pain.
have clarity.
be in a place of peace
and newness without any further suffering.)

When it was over I asked you if you liked it
and you said, "It was too soft."

You met our train at Santa Maria Novella
and before we went to your apartment on via Bolognese
you stopped at a bakery and bought a piece
a schiaciatta con uva.
We ate some in the little car.

The sweet, musky flavor of grapes and the yeasty bread,
the crunching of the seeds
was the sun today.

You are gone, but it remains:
Over the outskirts of Amsterdam in rain
that does not cease.

In the interplay of the instruments
is a pull to the dark.
a way of lulling us with beauty
to remind us that it all

There is no beauty without end.
There is no love without death.

Just as the viola goes plaintive and the 
violin reassures,
and the cello makes its way through life,
we hope for unscathed but, settle for scarred.

The violins weave around each other sharing some new discovery
in the mosaics in Ravenna at San Vitale,
or over an espresso in a bar
on some side street near Santa Croce.

Watching you breath with so much heaviness
took me  to an afternoon when we 
were supposed to get tickets to Venice.
Instead, we drank 9 espressos
and shared 9 different sweets
and only remembered the tickets at the last minute. 

That was the day two Andreas, John, Theresa, you and I
walked through the rain in our clear green plastic ponchos
and trudged over the aqua alta on catwalks through the
Piazza San Marco.

The gray green light in Venice was the sister
of Amsterdam,
was the sister of
the day I thought of you
outside the Conciergerie;

you and the shimmering colors of glass
and gold stars on the ceiling in St. Chappelle,

you and the quavering light though alabaster
and gold stars on the ceiling in the Galla Placida.

You were the first love.

Allegro sostenuto

I can only hold on by a thread,
a very thin thread,
So lost
without you
on this earth.

waves of an infinite gray engulf.
waves of coruscation pound
and quake the shore.

and then there will be some small relief: 

a picture of a tiny robin,
or the juicy flavor of a nectarine,
or the little girl at the Farmer's Market
begging her mother for lello cherries,
not red, lello.

How the days reflect that child's longing.
for her the color makes it complete
and for me these days, I look for,
but find, there is no more complete
and that you are gone forever.

Menueto allegro

Pretend that it didn't happen.
pretend that night isn't darker than dark could be made to
pretend that the darkness leads away from the rent in the very fabric
of this curtain of illusion.

echoes of echoes
of sadness.
echoes of echoes of tears falling
to fill the pool.
echoes of echoes to remind that
you will never be here again.

pizzicato winding 
wraps the heart as insulation
that does not hold.

pizzicato returns to present or portend on these long Sundays
that bring reminders of
what is missing.

and that what is missing is you.


i can attempt to find light
and it eludes by a moment
by a shred of a scintilla of a second
and I am back to that moment,
that irreconcilable and irrevocable breath
that was the last.

I attempt to find some hope but drift through days 
as if this maquillage was the face of today
and not some arrangement of colors that 
doesn't conceal
and doesn't convince.

My heart is a hole.