This arrow’s warped,
it won’t go where I send it.
I aimed it at the music I loved as a child,
but instead it pierced the child,
a girl of four or five who asks to sit
next to the family friend at dinner and sing
“Mack the Knife” for him, her favorite song,
safe in the bright cage of the kitchen.
She scares him under the table
with her hand, but she doesn’t betray him.
She guards his secret devotions.
Why shouldn’t she? She’s his chosen one,
his brainy tomboy who already knows
the sound of the mind’s waterfall endlessly
catching itself in a stone bowl
of its own making, a sound like applause
with silence in all its fissures,
or the sweeping sound of blowing snow,
intervals of pure silence in the ongoing hush.
She sings to send her voice like a bird
against the ceiling of the beautiful
empty room he has built for her,
where she can stay alone as long as she wants to
after he leaves, and listen to nothing,
the sound of whatever’ s happening -
the furnace kicking on,
red squirrels screeching in the pines,
the UPS man’s radio.
What difference does it make?
All music calls up the first music.