Note Held

By Fred Marchant Fred Marchant
“Nothing but sunlight and gleaming,
linoleum flecked with flame,
a thick coat of wax that flashed
down a corridor and led to a room,
a place where I curled up a few
innocuous inches off the floor.
Straps—word out of strophe,
the restraints of line and stanza—
straps hung in loops on closet hooks.
On the nightstand a basket with
peanut butter crackers, a vivid
and unnatural orange, a crinkly
wrap. A knee-high fridge stocked
with icy juices, foil boxes, straws
glued on. A female voice next door
claimed she was still a human being,
though I could not hear the reasons.
When it was my turn, I answered
right away, saying I knew where
I was and why. No, I would not
harm myself, surprised to be asked
as I had never had the thought.
Yes I knew where I was going next.
Out the window and through shadow
and streetlight, I saw how this building
connected to the next. I was to follow
a stripe painted on the wall. Someone
would walk with me as well. I felt fine
I said, and it was sort of true. Actually
I felt nailed by one wrist to a desire
to flee and by the other to a sincere
longing for sleep. I was not in pain.
Thank you. I felt like the very last note
in a concert, the one that hovers as if
it wants to linger, but is already over.”

Source: Poetry (July/August 2009).


This poem originally appeared in the July/August 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

July/August 2009
 Fred  Marchant


Fred Marchant's most recent book of poetry, The Looking House (Graywolf Press, 2009) was named by Barnes & Noble Review as one of the five best books of poetry in 2009. The San Francisco Chronicle picked it as one of the ten best collections of poetry, and the Massachusetts Book Award committee listed as one of the “must reads” of the past year. Janette Currie, writing in Pleiades, has written that “Marchant’s great achievement . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Health & Illness, Disappointment & Failure, The Body, The Mind, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets

POET’S REGION U.S., New England

Poetic Terms Dramatic Monologue, Free Verse

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