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from the August 2011 issue


So much of this happened
in basements, in thick woolen sweaters, in B major
but with strong passages in minor. On the outskirts.
That’s where we were from
but our thoughts had wings like the pigeons
and like them tried to find urban quarters
where the life of the spirit was more shaded, fluttering
over stone walls heavy with history. The shadow-play of thoughts
exposed what words concealed, that no love is as strong
as the one that goes unrequited. A gentle drizzle
fell over the bike rack. I remember everything
from inside the rain.

No one has said it more plainly than Barney Bigard
in his clarinet solo in “Creole Love Call”
with Duke Ellington’s orchestra. Literally
heartrending. For those who love each other music
is just the background. For the one who’s no longer loved
it’s everything. He hears it from inside the drizzle
up the street and down again. Who has the right
in this context to poke fun at Pathetic images:
a heart pierced by a spindle
on a rotating platter.
Then notes rise up
to which the shadows can dance; the others’ shadows.

“1956” copyright 2003 by Gunnar Harding. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2011 by Roger Greenwald. All rights reserved.

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