Today thousands of people converged on the lawn
for Mozart.  After the last gong
of the summoning bell, and expectant silence fell,
so ears could accept the first note.
Under puffs of cloud adrift in blue
the heart has opened as it cannot
under crystal chandeliers gone dim
above dark rows where pages rustle
and coughs strain behind cupped hands.
Here, two ten year old boys weave among blankets.
One with finger to lips checks the other, already silent,
before they settle under a yellow umbrella.
Even the two year old in pink-checked pinafore,
playing with mother's sandals, is part of the silent story
each blanket or cluster of webbed chairs could tell,
but differences here are subsumed.  We attend the piano
that sings to winds and strings, gives voice
to questions no words can still.
The music tries and in the space it fills,
we listen.




a sestina for Jonathan


My son explored the attic and found the kitchen
table he knew would be a perfect size
for his apartment.  I watched him scrape and clean
the streams of milk still dried beneath the leaves,
one glass of many spilled at the table
that was ours and years before his grandmother's.

"You can have it," she'd said.  Tired of grandmother's
hand-me-downs, mother imagined a kitchen
she'd seen in the magazines with a round table
in white.  This was not the right size.
Once she ordered father to saw the leaves--
cherry that almost touched the floor.  She cleaned

and covered the wood with oilcloth for easy cleaning.
None could recognize the table that had graced grandmother's
home, draped in crocheted lace, its leaves
outspread for guests who happened by her kitchen.
But now we fit around its altered size
to eat, our feet touching beneath the table.

Here we hurled words across the table.
Like rings in wood they've stayed, not to be cleaned
away like milk or cut like leaves to size.
Perhaps if we'd had the grander space of grandmother's,
they wouldn't have rung so loud inside the kitchen--
maybe they would not have driven us to leave.

When my husband stripped the varnish from the darkened leaves,
revealed the fire hidden in wood, the table
became our center for conversation and kitchen
meals, the children's paints and clay.  When cleaned,
the cherry gleamed as it always had in grandmother's
time except for the leaves diminished size.

When we bought a bigger house, we found the size
gave space for the tiger maple we wanted with leaves
that almost touched the floor, the grace of grandmother's.
In the attic's heat and dark, the little table
deepened, like a white shirt packed away clean,
revealed its spots, waiting for another kitchen.

My son found its size was right, the perfect table.
He runs his hands along the leaves he cleaned.
Again grandmother's table gleams in his kitchen.