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.