Early Rehearsal

Beth Levin

[December 2004.]



Get up in the dark
feel for my pants and shoes
coffee offers false hope
the eyes not responding

Mustard pillars below ground
Wet Paint
voices travel the cold tiles
(mustard gas a possibility they say)

Stand the whole way
feel for my music
reading “Esme” miss my stop


Ripped pages
start at the end, work back
distracted, cramming, coffee no help
desperate practice
deadline too near


Wordless songs, unseeing, unseen
yawning time, gushing, digging
never reaching
Before the word, the wail, the sigh
fire and water, sculpted air
Awaiting death, seeking the core


The vine supple, approaching winter
my spine less so
impinging age


We meet at three
apartment chilly
French-roast first aid
instruments tuned, one, two, three
on to the music, second nature
in truth, second time
We say next to nothing, feel for the whole, work as a trio
Three-in-One heads, oiled to go
pausing only to speak our awe
Next week, then, tear open the carcass
at letter A or measure 16
Today we marvel


Radio blues
words that won’t come
a mike, coffee
shoes that pinch, I giggle inanely
On the Air, Chopin’s Fantasy
power, fire, language return


Atlantic City

Running out to greet me
same eyes, gravelly voice,
gentle hug
the last time in the music school’s halls
Life in the gap
too much to bear, too sad to speak of
a spirit fragile
a spirit tested
a spirit intact
Here on Oriental Avenue
in the shadow of the lighthouse
we play for each other
the condensed years filtered through Brahms.


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