25 July 2008

Jorie Graham

[from Jorie Graham's Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts, 1980]

Girl at the Piano

It begins, what I can hear, with the train withdrawing from itself
at an even pace in the night although it always seems
to withdraw from us.
Our house almost continues

in its neighbors, although the thinnest bent and wavering fence
keeps us completely strange.
Perhaps it is a daughter who practices the piano, practices
slow and overstressed like the train, slow and relentless

like the crickets weaving their briar between us and growing
unsure of purpose. These three sounds continue, and I
alongside them so that we seem to stand
terribly still. Every change

is into a new childhood, what grows old only the fiber
of remembering, tight at first like crickets and ivories,
crickets and train,
then slackening

though always hanging on to the good bones of windowframes and eaves
and white columns of the porch
in moonlight. Like taffeta, the song,
though not yet learned, is closer to inhabiting her hands

and less her mind, ever closer to believing
it could never have been otherwise. Your sleep beside me is the real,
the loom I can return to when all loosens into speculation.
Silently, the air is woven

by the terribly important shuttle of your breath,
       the air that has crossed
your body retreating, the new air approaching. See,
transformation, or our love of it,
draws a pattern we can't see but own. Like the pennies we pushed

into the soil beneath the pillowy hydrangea, pennies
that will turn the white flowers blue,
or the song I finish past her, the completely learned song
like my other self, a penny slipped next to the heart, a neighbor.

Hybrids of Plants and of Ghosts (Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets)

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