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Introit & Fugue

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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: The Rules of Paradise (Four Way Books, 2001)

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

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Introit & Fugue

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