Mozart’s Concerto for Glass Harmonica

By Richard Garcia b. 1941 Richard Garcia
There you are, at the gate of the memory palace
underneath the rusted teeth of the portcullis,
your hand raised in a puzzling gesture—
is it farewell, come here, get back, no blame,
or are you just trying to hitch a ride? But I’ve seen
that gesture when you sleep, as if you were saying
to someone, on the one hand . . . on the other hand.
Here is a memory to store in the palace—
You and I at the circus. The arena is dark
except for one blue spotlight. In it, a clown
stands before a table. On the table an array,
crystal wine glasses filled with different levels
of water. He’s dressed in white with a conical hat,
tear marks on one cheek. With a wet finger,
he plays music that was once forbidden
because it made musicians lose their minds.
There is a blank look in his eyes and he performs
perfectly, as if he were a mechanical clown.
Now look up, the lady on the trapeze
is dropping large blue crepe-paper flowers.
Maybe the palace is the size of a dollhouse
and my eye at the window is the eye of a giant.
Maybe the palace is in my chest and my heart
is beating too loud inside. I remember
when I woke but was still asleep and saw
my chest rising and falling on its own
and then I accidentally rolled out of my body
and there were two of me lying side by side.
In an alcove shaped like a scallop shell I’ve placed
a list of the way lovers have said goodbye.
Developer fluid heated up, passed off
as consommé, is a standout. As is GOODBYE
written in shaving cream on the dusty windows
of a row of abandoned cars in Baja. Just as I begin
to suspect what is wrong with this picture
I notice how lightly you step over the grillwork
of the oubliette, that terrible lace under which
men are forgotten. You raise your hand again
and now I understand that gesture—
it’s how you erase the distant mountains,
the palace, the sky, everything.

Richard Garcia, “Mozart’s Concerto for Glass Harmonica” from The Persistence of Objects. Copyright © 2006 by Richard Garcia. Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions, Ltd.


Source: The Persistence of Objects (BOA Editions Ltd., 2006)

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Poet Richard Garcia b. 1941

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Subjects Living, The Body, Arts & Sciences, Music

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Richard  Garcia

Biography

Poet and writer Richard Garcia was born in San Francisco and started writing in his teenage years. Since then, he has authored various books of poetry, including The Flying Garcias (1991), Rancho Notorious (2001), and The Persistence of Objects (2006). Garcia’s most recent work is a chapbook of prose poems entitled Chickenhead (2009).
 
Praised by Nobel Prize Winner Octavio Paz for his “emotion…verbal economy [and] tone (the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Body, Arts & Sciences, Music

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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