Girls’ Middle School Orchestra

By Michael Ryan b. 1946 Michael Ryan
They’re all dressed up in carmine
floor-length velvet gowns, their upswirled hair
festooned with matching ribbons:
their fresh hopes and our fond hopes for them
infuse this sort-of-music as if happiness could actually be
each-plays-her-part-and-all-will-take-care-of-itself.
Their hearts unscarred under quartz lights
beam through the darkness in which we sit
to show us why we endured at home
the squeaking and squawking and botched notes
that now in concert are almost beautiful,
almost rendering this heartrending music
composed for an archduke who loved it so much
he spent his fortune for the musicians
who could bring it brilliantly to life.

Poem copyright ©2010 by Michael Ryan, whose most recent book of poetry is New and Selected Poems, Houghton Mifflin, 2004. Reprinted from The American Poetry Review, Vol. 39, no. 5, Sept./Oct. 2010, by permission of Michael Ryan and the publisher.

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Poet Michael Ryan b. 1946

 Michael  Ryan

Biography

Poet and memoirist Michael Ryan was born in St Louis, Missouri. He studied at the University of Notre Dame and Claremont Graduate School, and earned an MFA and PhD from the University of Iowa. Ryan’s first volume, Threats Instead of Trees (1974), won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. His second collection, In Winter (1981), was selected by Louise Glück for the National Poetry Series. God Hunger (1989) won the Lenore . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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