Moonrise, Tanglewood

Aug 19, 2013

The sharp steel wall of the concert hall encloses the melody and wounds the summer sky, a soft yellow glow gathering before moonrise...

-Sibelius, Violin Concerto

The sharp steel wall of the concert hall

encloses the melody and wounds

the summer sky, a soft yellow glow

gathering before moonrise, the Man’s

face growing round and bright

as a French horn, but contorted

into Munch’s portrait of a scream.

The soloist understands the anguish,

understands a moonstruck Sibelius

destroyed his stack of unfinished scores

and drank mood swings and suicidal

thoughts to sleep. But tonight, spread out

on the Tanglewood lawn, we don’t want

despair. Our candles flicker as if we are

in a cathedral, and we nuzzle under blankets

and drink champagne until our teeth are numb,

Sibelius’ torment softened by children’s voices

carried on warm wind, by airplanes high

overhead blinking in competition with stars,

my best friend tuned into the music, maybe

a month to live, his body as thin as summer

is ripe and sweet, a full glass in his hand,

moonlight dissolving the lines in his face,

the tortured run of notes at the climax

stealing our breath like an assassin’s wire.

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