An Instrument Also

By Donald Revell b. 1954 Donald Revell
The climate thinks with its knees.
When the wound opens, music suspires.
Opening a gate, I gain the color
below the roof tiles and the tree limbs.

You gave me
the late quartets
a black bird and
a white and the
Garden of Eden.
Your death belongs
to anyone but me.

I wonder so as not to forget. At night in Brooklyn, the tendrils
of a white sex denuded the sky, shimmering at the tall needle-
ends of buildings. The traffic was identical in the spring.

I am protected by only
music I cannot remember.
Why is it that the best
minds ended by composing
fairy tales? Death swarms.
There are many new beings,
the odor of hearts. The order

of the hour of mating ends. These are many
new butterflies, and death is no longer to
be eyed by a young girl, perhaps twelve years
old, slyly, as though the future were a man’s
sleeve or stride. I wonder so as not to end
dinner in a farmhouse. We sat at a low table.
Our host was dying but unaware, as she would
be murdered the next day in a distant city. There is an out-
side of language that is not silence. There is an outside of
God that is not isolation, a domestic animal teaching a dying
woman to hunt. A wound opens. A gate opens. Tendrils climb.

Donald Revell, "An Instrument Also" from Beautiful Shirt © 1992 by Donald Revell and reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Beautiful Shirt (Wesleyan University Press, 1992)

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Poet Donald Revell b. 1954

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

Subjects Living, Death

 Donald  Revell


Born in the Bronx, Donald Revell received his PhD at SUNY Buffalo and is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry, translations, and essays. His recent books include Tantivy (2012) and the prose work, Essay: A Critical Memoir (2015).Steeped in the work of Henry David Thoreau and William Carlos Williams, Revell’s poetry is “seriously Christian but not doctrinaire, mystical without setting intellect aside, angry over . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Death

POET’S REGION U.S., Southwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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