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.