Monday, December 12, 2011

Mahler in His Middle Period: Symphonies 5, 6 & 7

The train schedule is indiscernible:
some nights two or three horns in long morendo,
some silent while cold stars twist into the hills.

Our linden wood bed keeps the dreams of Kalist
that neither the burned chapel at Worthersee
nor my overly-anointed nerves can dispel,

half-waking reverie where I race to the gateless
rail grade in the now-dark morning,
wondering if we will ever meet, the freight and I.

Here was the trade off: a summer house
for beautiful Alma; proper caps and aprons
for the children; all at the cost of voices

and the years of organizing tone:
one wants the folk songs of childhood
sung in one's own tongue,

the translated feelings that flee to me
out of the day's meal, a shoulder-shrugged blouse,
these scuffed boots now covered in graveside mud.

Someone must write the kindertotenlieder,
directing the audience to inflect
in the presence of the intoning angels;

bow to the principal and the final A minor;
to a portrait of fever under weakening poultice;
this calling bell by the sea bringing today's need.

Roused out of the winter quilt's weight with
family embraced to my marionette frame,
I try again to teach the divine how to love us.

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