Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tuesday Poem - Mystery Sonata


Heinrich Biber 1644 –1705

He tears notes from the throat

of his violin, a savage gathering

blood and sinew into sudden music

taut as a tendon, glistening wet

on the surface of an open wound.

Shadows there are now, and light

lining up on ridges, tracing lines

of bone and hair on skin.

The woman hears the trammel

and tread of footprints. They mount

her spine - the legion of history drops

its baggage, scrabbles to set up camp

on the tip of her scapula.

He is a madman, this dead musician

his violin nothing more than an ancient tree

cut down. He sends reconnaissance troupes

of sound ahead, instructs them to navigate

the rise of her shoulder, circumvent

her clavicle, find a way into her chest

cavity. She is packed with kindling

splinter-dry. His bow parts her ribs,

singes the corridors of her body.

And look. She stands to leave

the room. See the telltale burn marks

where the soles of her feet touch

the floor? Leger lines smoulder

beneath her chair. There is the threat

of fire in the air.

detail from v. Fire, a work in progress - CB 2010

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  1. I believe this classic Claire poem - a favourite of mine - was the first poem I hard you read. It has the capacity to reverberate ... for years!

  2. Hi Claire,

    This one reminded me of your 'Button Shop', another tour de force.

    I like the way you balance the almost violent intrusion into the interior with the aesthetic experience: Music like mystery invades the body, nearly sunders it in these poems.

    The Elizabethans were very fond of anatomy analogies, particularly in their aesthetic and polemical pamphlets. Your poems are like anatomies. A very good book on the topic is one by Devon Hodges, Renaissance Fictions of Anatomy.


  3. Music as an assault! "Packed with kindling" is fierce and alarming, rich and dry.

  4. Dear Kay - lovely to think you remember this poem from an earlier reading (2002 that would have been... ) Thank you - and, too, for refreshing my memory. L, C

  5. Hi John - apologies for the slow reply. I've been away from home and computer this past week and am still a few steps behind myself.

    Your comments are always so carefully considered, thank you. I welcome the idea of my poems being like anatomies... the notion prompts me to do further research. Devon Hodges' book looks like one worth hunting out - I see it's available through Amazon; I wonder whether our university library might have hold a copy...

    Your recent poem to Melissa is very beautiful, John. It magnificently encapsulates her language and her sensibility.

    I'm so pleased our (pl) paths have crossed. Your writing is splendid (forgive the inadequate descriptor.)


  6. Dear Mim - you are generous as always.

    Now that I'm home and back on the blog, I look forward to catching up with your most recent posts. I know you are home in New England and that spring is bursting all around you - and that your tomato seedlings survived the trip back from South Beach. I will let you know I've visited...

    Love, Claire