Barry Goldensohn


At a party the random tumbling voices
of friends gathered from distant places
together in one room, my son weaves
through the room with wine, kissing and pouring,
a dear friend theatrically removes a bandage
from one eye to gather all eyes, announcing
It’s cured, binocular vision returned, an infant
with sweet scented talcum is passed from hand
to hand, filling its diaper and gurgling with delight,
and from a bright, broad hallway a whisper,
another death, spreads and hushes the room.
Slowly talk resumes, basso, alto,
that swells with urgent voices, my children, my friends,
a dissonant chorus that recomposes the heart.

A young violinist lingers in the wings
to speak to a pretty usher, the drummer
bends over his drums nearly kissing
their skins as he cranks up their voices.
They enter singly or in clusters, tootling
the lovely voices of their instruments
warming them for us, the strings singing,
the horns moaning, the reeds moistened
and warm to the mouth, a disunion of voices.
This interval has no name though no less
sweet for that. The concert master sounds
the concert pitch and all tune up.
The conductor begins to raise his arms, a hush,
then with one voice the Requiem begins.

BARRY GOLDENSOHN lives in northern Vermont. The Hundred Yard Dash Man (selected poems) was followed by Snake in the Spine, Wolf in the Heart. He is currently at work on his ninth collection of poems.

image: Arthur Hughes, A Music Party, 1864