Channel 2: Horowitz Playing Mozart

sits with a small smile, watching  
two speckled frogs or lizards run right 
and left, apart, together 

on long legs bendable as rubber. 
He doesn't bend down, looking,  
or sway to keep up with their scuffles,   

but sits immobile, his eyes
icon-sized but lidded, following 
those mottled creatures.  Bow-tied,

sweater-vested, he could be a clerk  
at a counter, there to wrap
things up for us the old-fashioned way,

with brown paper and a string.
He is old, no doubting it; his lean 
head states the skull's theme clearly.  

Strict time has taught him patience, practice
this perfect stillness, amused,
a little, like Buddha, watching two  

lithe, spotted beasts (allegro) 
in their hopscotch hurry.  Now stealthy
(lento), now frantic, they ramble

and attack and he observes, as if  
to learn their motives--hunger?
fear? territorial contention?

They could be hoarding, like ants,
against the future, or this display
might be, in fact, a mating   

dance (as we, the viewers, are hoping
in our hearts).  They are not tame,
exactly, or exactly trapped--that

man is kindly, it strikes us,  
and would release them.  He is admiring,
it seems, the precision, worked

out in all this time--the way they fit  
their niche.  Just the parts they need
they have evolved: the long and recurved

reachers, the last joints padded   
hammer heads.  He glances now and then
at Previn, the beat-keeper.

"They will go on forever,"
he might be saying, "unless your stick
can make an end of it."  There--

the cut-off falls, the last chord
lingers in the strings.  The old man flings
them--winged?--up into the air,

a referee (that bow tie)
declaring both the winner, sending
them heavenward, letting go.

From The Land of Milk and Honey, by Sarah Getty, published by the University of South Carolina Press, 1996. Copyright © 1996 by Sarah Getty. All rights reserved. Used with permission.