Poetry

How Music is Made

You make it and I wonder about it
listening to what you navigate and sound

in the midst of the orchestra with your clarinet
enchanted—though you may not be—by what’s

around, wrapping you in a cloak, complete or torn
sometimes embroidered and elaborate, gold-edged

while I peer down at you from a box and note
your solemn face that refuses to look up but waits

on the next blown note, fingers in place
listening, since you’re silent, to a lesser wood

a lesser storm is passing through, though
portents in the base show the wait

will not be long. You’re needed and the horns around
raise their snouts like hunting animals and pounce

in the stream with splashing shouts of sound.
How less my listening is. How true (though

fuzzed) yours must be. How odd, you say,
when the conductor praises you, singling

you out for a passage where you felt disguised
but he—overhearing all—heard you.

On the outskirts of your wood I sit
in my comfortable space, my seat

and wish I could be deeper there with you
inside the making of the sounds I hear

rising from the stands before your eyes
their leaf pattern on white pages that blow

as you flick their corners over—a row
of bows does this together, heart-stoppingly—

and so intent I think I revere music most
before you’ve blown the first note on your clarinet.

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