Mahler in New York
Now when I go out, the wind pulls me
into the grave. I go out
to part the hair of a child I left behind,
and he pushes his face into my cuffs, to smell the wind.
If I carry my father with me, it is the way
a horse carries autumn in its mane.
If I remember my brother,
it is as if a buck had knelt down
in a room I was in.
I kneel, and the wind kneels down in me.
What is it to have a history, a flock
buried in the blindness of winter?
Try crawling with two violins
into the hallway of your father’s hearse.
It is filled with sparrows.
Sometimes I go to the field
and the field is bare. There is the wind,
which entrusts me;
there is a woman walking with a pail of milk,
a man who tilts his bread in the sun;
there is the black heart of a mare
in the milk—or is it the wind, the way it goes?
I don’t know about the wind, about the way
it goes. All I know is that sometimes
someone will pick up the black violin of his childhood
and start playing—that it sits there on his shoulder
like a thin gray falcon asleep in its blinders,
and that we carry each other this way
because it is the way we would like to be carried:
sometimes with mercy, sometimes without.
Reprinted with permission of the author. Originally appeared in Rattle magazine. Reprinted in Fugue for Other Hands (Cider Press Review, 2013).