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Music Arises from Component Parts or The Dream of a Clarinet

By Tobias Wray

Once done,
my father pulled
the instrument apart.
Mouthpiece, barrel.
Joint by joint,
until the bell, wide
as a mouth singing
or screaming,
lay like a dried-up

fountain, a fountain
wet only at the rim
where the last notes
shone still. We were safe
while he practiced:
that music, almost
pattern. The sound
of a clarinet: reedy
absence. He would wave,

as he played,
the black scepter slowly
as if the moment
were stuck in glint,
a spell that never held.

Fires lit under
soon-to-empty trees
bounced sparks
against razor-wire stars.

Like a single voice
that beckons to fairy-tale
children, a voice they know
as ancient, dangerous,
yet somehow made of gold.

It took me years
to recall what I heard then.
More than unclear warning, or
loggia in lapsed light.

Anywhere in the house,
we his audience, sunk
like walking stones
over water, trapped
in fading song and after.

My sister tells me
we hid in the closet,
his hard face. Is there
anything more sinister
than a memory lost?
Than a bare music stand?




Added: Tuesday, March 30, 2021  /  Used with permission.
Tobias Wray
Photo by Rachel Kincaid

Tobias Wray’s debut poetry collection, No Doubt I Will Return a Different Man, won the Lighthouse Poetry Prize (Cleveland State University Press, 2021). His work has found homes in various journals, including Blackbird, Bellingham Review, Hunger Mountain, Meridian, and The Georgia Review. Poems also appear in the forthcoming The Queer Nature Anthology (Autumn House Press, 2021) and The Queer Movement Anthology of Literatures (Seagull Books, 2021). He lives in Eastern Washington with his hiking partner, Andy.

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