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Cliburn In Moscow - Poem by mary douglas

'is there anyone
who can peer into your eyes
and with his own blood fuse
two centuries worth of vertebrae? '
-Osip Mandelstam, The Age

cliburn in moscow
holding in his arms
the flame-tipped roses of the bygone,

a last music box from the tattered silk
families, inscribed with only song-
like a favored child

overloaded at Christmas-
could not contain enough music
to express this miracle:

amethyst sunbursts beading the river
music, ruling the world...
how could he leave (he never could)

raspberry, the light in the skies and the
weeping coronas of a music
exquisitely tuned, returned through him

to them, in the jeweled air
by an orphaned moment looping in on itself
from the long-ago: whole etudes of the

half-forgotten summers rippling the ponds
willow stirred; fire-branded, the white piano
evenings, on our hearts, then the ghosts of music

whispered, now...
and was it engraved on the pale blue snows
of the soul's long fortitude, all along, their delicate

farewell in you repeated, going back to
the first measure?
once domes of pure silver glinted a silver music unbound,

unprecedented, fusing the brokenness
and continents merged as though there were no ocean
but the ocean of music, sparkling, flashing diamond myriad

mystical, pressed to the heart but the heart is... fleeting
and cannot be embroidered on your pillow, child
not even in vermilion, tamarind, glistening, blue

snows will not erase, nor all of time,
the burnished image from the mind the sounds
dropped from Heaven by the astonished angels

uncareful of their prize

mary angela douglas 12 june 2014; rev.14 june 2014

Note on the poem:
The first stanza of the poem refers to scenes of Cliburn being loaded down with family heirlooms and souvenirs by kind
Russian concert goers deeply affected by his music. This happened to him, I believe, each time he returned to Russia.

You may think I dropped a note or two to call the gold domes of Moscow silver. Or is it Petersburg? Or was it a deliberate misreading to indicate a psychological state when the inner light is so blinding that physical details of the outward scene, no matter how beautiful cannot registr properly or is it that the domes of silver rising from the music of Van Cliburn's concerts, were silver? the very silver of the poets of the Silver Age...

uncareful (in the final line) , also, is not a real word in English but I often use the prefix 'un'(meaning, not) in front of a word if this causes the sounds to flow together more beautifully (so I coined 'uncareful' instead of using the usual 'careless'.

Where Is the Beautiful Where You Were is an elegy I wrote after Van Cliburn died. And this shorter poem, though written so much later is kind of a broken off icicle from the eaves of, the opus of that larger sorrow, if this makes sense to you I would be amazed.


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Poems About Silver

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