East of the Thirty-three

[Beth will be performing Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, Op. 120, throughout much of the year. A recording for Centaur is planned for summer, 2009. Ed.]

Poems by Beth Levin

[April 2009.]

eye the old darling dozing in a corner
shiny as an eel
push her out to center stage
remove the blanket (grand dame’s robes)
First few notes no disaster action responsive, pedals mum
(sometimes I think I’m treading on mice)
Choosing a tender variation begin my acquaintanceship
work up to Presto
judge the spectrum
dark, light, power, play
janitor passes through — a welcome sight —
“you’ve got chops,” he says


steps like drum beats
clasp the music tight
feet clad in black slippers
a good mold to the pedals
skirt velvet, earrings in a silk pouch
pavement stones falling away, I near the hall
my heart as dark as ebony


nothing left to say
after so many notes
crescendos drawn
fortes crash’d
slurs made velvet, tempos held
but a tiny voice asking
if you were stirred


phone call or two, an email
daffodils on a ledge
fly to somewhere
feel elation wither

on stage art boils
ideas long pondered
rupture the calm

the sweep of the whole
smaller shapes within
time molded, enacted,
emboldened by luck

a phone call or two, an email
daffodils on a ledge
the inevitable death


if you ask me how it was
to play the thirty-three
I’d say jump in, see for yourself
(run for the hills)
I’d say it was a millipede’s trek
through invention, comedy, heart
(don’t touch it with a yard stick)
I’d say I marvel at a waltz transmuted
to a golden tour de force
(save yourself)


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