Introit & Fugue

By D. Nurkse D. Nurkse
After death, my father   
practices meticulously   
until the Bach is seamless,   
spun glass in a dream,   
you can no longer tell   
where the modulations are,   
or the pedal shifts
or the split fingerings . . .

if he rests
it’s to wind the metronome   
or sip his cup of ice . . .

but who is the other old man   
in the identical flannel gown,   
head cocked, listening
ever more critically,
deeper in the empty room?

D. Nurkse, “Introit and Fugue” from The Rules of Paradise (New York: Four Way Books, 2001). Used by permission of Four Way Books.

Source: Poetry (August 1990).

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This poem originally appeared in the August 1990 issue of Poetry magazine

August 1990
 D.  Nurkse

Biography

D. Nurkse is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including The Rules of Paradise (2001), The Fall (2003), and The Border Kingdom (2008). His parents escaped Nazi Europe during World War II—his Estonian father worked for the League of Nations in Vienna, his mother was an artist—and moved to New York. Nurkse’s family moved back to live in Europe for a number of years, returning to the United States around the time of the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Family & Ancestors, Music, Living, Arts & Sciences, Relationships, Death

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

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