Everyone should have a little fugue, she says, the young conductor taking her younger charges through the saddest of pieces, almost a dirge written for unholy times, and no, not for money. Ready? she tells them, measuring out each line for cello, viola, violin. It will sound to you not quite right. She means the aching half-step of the minor key, no release from it, that always-on-the-verge-of, that repeat, repeat. Everyone should have a little fugue-- I write that down like I cannot write the larger griefs. For my part, I believe her. Little fugue I wouldn't have to count.
Marianne Boruch - 1950-
What God Knew
when he knew nothing. A leaf looks like this, doesn’t it? No one to ask. So came the invention of the question too, the way all at heart are rhetorical, each leaf suddenly wedded to its shade. When God knew nothing, it was better, wasn't it? Not the color blue yet, its deep unto black. No color at all really, not yet one thing leading to another, sperm to egg endlessly, thus cities, thus the green countryside lying down piecemeal, the meticulous and the trash, between lake and woods the dotted swiss of towns along any state road. Was God sleeping when he knew nothing? As opposed to up all night (before there was night) or alert all day (before day)? As opposed to that, little engine starting up by itself, history, a thing that keeps beginning and goes past its end. Will it end, this looking back? From here, it's one shiny ravaged century after another, but back there, in a house or two: a stillness, a blue cup, a spoon, one silly flower raised up from seed. I think so fondly of the day someone got lucky and dodged the tragedy meant for him. It spilled like sound from a faulty speaker over an open field. He listened from a distance. God-like, any one of us could say.