Friday 9 May 2008

John Ash's The Goodbyes (selections)


The pianist commences the sonata about the angels and the rain.
It is so slow, so lingering we will soon be fast asleep

dreaming of pink rooms with musical animals and roses
while our teeth rot in sympathy, and outside
the autumn air grows dense as a preserving oil

We must start now on the long route back
to 'the evidence of our senses' but it is hard,--
we may have to unlearn as much as we learn,

"Great Sonata I" (first three stanzas)

Our lives
have been folded away like a letter

bearing a message of terrible
and never posted.

"Our Lives: A Symphony"

And each individual--
their clothes, their hair or the small movements of their hands,
impresses us as the element of a pattern we wouldn't, just now, alter a stitch,
although we know sadness is in it like an ink-stain

"The Threshold Moment"

we're listening and leaning into a distance htat's
immense, capable of any transformation--

How far? How deep? Who will come with us?
Everything is in there, even the mountains
where the elephants go to die.

* * *

The clear air's full of the feeling of curtains rising
and everyone's ears are tuning up.

"Music Understood by Children and Animals"

turns to the furniture of permanence.

* * *

the goodbye like a black stair-
case leading
back into whatever you were.

"The Goodbyes"

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