SONATA FOR ANOTHER WORLD
BY ROBERT KLEIN ENGLER
on the 50th anniversary of my father's
After my father died, his broken violin stayed
the basement until a flood came and warped
the wood so much mother
had to throw it out.
I saw it in the garbage with its few strings
curled up like strands of his once black hair.
We had floods
like that in the city, then.
Brackish water gushed up from the grid
of the basement drain like oil, and sewage
belched into our
lives, while sheets of rain
were wrung from the gray and lightning
I never heard my father play his violin,
and yet there
should be songs for those like him,
the ones who could not get the
the ones who floated on the murky tide of days,
then lifted by the waves, they drowned.
My student, Philip,
has the same black hair
my father had. He studies how to pull the
down from heaven with his bright hands.
His violin can burn
once more our open sore.
Around again that fire comes just like
The days are well near spring, and now the snow
plowed into temporary cliffs begins to melt.
What are these
dregs of memory poking out?
The figs of paper bags, a rag that was a
and broken twigs that blindly reach for light.
manner of dross floats up from a dream,
like the leather sleeves of
Napoleon's dead army.
Those twisted fingers reach up from frozen mud
after their long retreat from Russia's snow,
and scratch the air
on which our songs travail.
I thought as a child my father's dead
would rise out of our ghostly coal bin, too,
for his absent violin,
drag me down into the silent well of
Instead, we burnt that coal to keep us warm.
wheel their wagons and their load,
then, stop surprised! A moment
turns a life.
Philip plays, I listen, and half a century folds.
who is, may be as he who could have been.
To know this wound, is to
know who heals it.
I wake early, while dawn still struggles in
and hope again a music for our broken hearts,
out of time, unlike any love we know.
Too long we miss the home where
Come father, play; these words are for your song.