To Clare, a Rehearsal

Kathleen Wakefield Click to read more...

Kathleen Wakefield’s book Notations on the Visible World (2000) won the 1999 Anhinga Prize for Poetry. She also has a chapbook from State Street Press entitled Three and Back (1993). Her work has appeard in the Beloit Poetry Journal, Image, The Georgia Review, The Journal, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, River Styx, Southern Humanitites Review, and is forthcoming in the Sewanee Review.

        Die lieder sind verweht . . .
            (“The songs trail away in the wind”)
                 — O Kuhler Wald

                     Johannes Brahms, Opus 72, no. 3

I am sorry to disturb you so late in the evening.
You see, I’d forgotten to say what I came for earlier.
It is lovely tonight, isn’t it?  The soft rushing
of wind through the leaves before they turn
incites the air with misgivings about the season.

I imagine there are as many ways to end a story
as there are to end a day,
with the awaited storm, agitation
that alternately lifts the soul up, then terrifies,
or the slow blue hours of nightfall, coolness
that seems less like something falling on earth
than something taken away.

I never believed in falling in love.
I’ve known too much of the tyranny of lust.
Yet my hand can scarcely near your wrist
without the trembling of sinews that have caressed ivory keys.
This wave of tenderness strangles the heart.

Surely you must know how I feel.
I give these notes to the voice of another
when always it is what I feel,
your coming close, then drifting away . . . .
Let us walk awhile under the dimming streetlights
in sober introspection.  About these songs,
bodiless words and music speaking to each other.

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Discussion

One Response to To Clare, a Rehearsal

  1. Thank you, Kathleen. The idea to write a poem about Brahms and Clara Schumann has not infrequently flitted through my mind, but I’ve never acted on it. Yours is very, very good. I’m satisfied.

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