Da Capo


If you re-tell a life,

tell and re-tell things that had happened,

tell and re-tell old loves, friends and deaths

(if only to yourself), if you re-tell a life

events will swirl and stick to a line of time

like flies to poisoned  paper.

They will become like notes on a stave,

finding congruity and harmony in a key

that, in their soundless isolation, did not exist


And, as you tell and recount, you know it must be false;

harmony and progression are not singular;

melody moves only from silence to silence.


If you chose then not to re-tell the story,

the sequence and harmony seem to fail;

the sounds jangle and grate,

and they lie unplaced without resonance,

like old broken delft, the shadow memory of

a shattered pattern on a painted cup,

or some random flies scattered dead

in the corner of the dusty window frame.


If you re-tell a life

accidental structures

will emerge unbidden in the telling.

The shape and sound of words will

gather in the fragments of other things –

strange motes and specks that could be gold,

or broken cobwebs flecked with dead flies’ wings.


And so too are gathered in your wheezing pauses,

the breaths of breathing ghosts,

the creaking of the old house and

the banshee wind astride the high gables

screeching and re-screeching

like Minerva never wanting

and never finding peace.


A new word turns an old corner,

and a pattern shifts. Past and future

never really meet and the present

always returns

to an old beginning.