Sheet Music By Brigit Pegeen Kelly

If you cannot trust the dog, the faithful one?   
And is this anyway a dog? The shadows move,   
Dog and dog, two lanky figures, three, sniffing   
The garden’s charred terrain, the darkening grass

The bleeding beds of flowers, sniffing the stones   
And lunging at the rabbits that spring from the beds,   
Wet creatures, mad with haste, mad and wet   
And white as the half-hearted moon that stepped

Behind the clouds and has not come back....The rain   
Fell hard, and now the mist rises, consolidates, disperses,   
That thought, this, your face, mine, the shapes   
Complicating the air around the abandoned birdhouse,

Big as a summer hotel, thirty rooms
For thirty birds, thirty perches from which to sing.   
Such is the moon when it is full. A giant birdhouse   
Tilted high on a steel pole, a pale blue box

Full of the shredded sheet music of long-dead birds....   
The dogs move fast. How will I follow? And which one?   
They are not in agreement. If the dog cannot be trusted,   
Then what? The foot? But the foot is blind, the grass

Cold through the thin socks, the instep bared like a neck.   
And now the flowers rise. The mums and asters,   
The tall gladioli knocked back as the rain creeps up   
In the mist, and the mist thickens and moves about me

Like a band of low-bred mummers, dripping scent,   
Pulling my hair, my arms, trying to distract me,
But still I hear it, the dark sound that begins at the edge   
Of the mind, at the far edge of the uncut field

Beyond the garden—a low braying, donkey
Or wolf, a low insistent moan. If I whistle
Will the dogs come? Can I gather their trailing leashes   
And hold them in my hand? They cannot be held.

How pale the paint of the birdhouse. How ghastly pale   
The sound of the cry coming closer....If I forsake   
The dogs?.... If I forsake the mummers?....If I step   
Like a fool into the glassy outer darkness?.... O self....

Brigit Pegeen Kelly, “Sheet Music” from The Orchard. Copyright © 2004 by Brigit Pegeen Kelly. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.

Source: The Orchard (BOA Editions Ltd., 2004)

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