Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Bursting Test

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The Bursting Test

Guernica Editions, 2002

From The Bursting Test:

Snail Love With Opera

for Stephen

I think of you lying in jail at night
listening to the music you asked us to send,
thinking of her, while Beethoven's only opera,
Fidelio, the heartsick husband in prison,
plays in my head, and snails with soprano
voices make noisy love in our garden.

This is what Mozart meant when he wrote
Eine kleine Nachtmusik, arias
sung in flowerbeds, where slippery
inamorata, floating on silent carpets of dew,
make their slow way through the tea roses
and dahlias, forget-me-nots, to dirt
hotels where they twist and twist,
the pyrotechnic friction of flesh
making the holy madrigals of men
and women in love, like you, all
alone, listening to music in your cell.

Was it Mozart who first called the love
portal of women a theatre? Was he thinking
of Venice, the first opera house,
and snails crawling out of the sea
with prisons on their backs, then
filling them up with air, the volatile
mother of water and music and the viscous
fluids exchanged when camerata, the passionate
stories, are sung in gardens where luminous
footprints of snails are songlines
people of genius are compelled to transpose
when the time on the ceiling is almost
dawn, and even the deaf composer,
lonely as the celibate tenor,
his candle burnt down to the wick,
only one song playing itself over
and over outside his window at night,
is able to free his hero Fidelio
from the agony of love with treble notes
so high and pure they can bend prison bars?

This is the sound of hermaphrodites
glowing in the dark, their bodies
acquiescing to the music of grass
harps and insect singing, their lyrics
produced from shining orifices in the face,
their opera houses lit up and the Midnight
Express freeing the prisoners of love,
all of them lying awake and listening,
so long as light shines through bars.

Read more aboutThe Bursting Test at Linda's website.