A P R I L 1 9 9 9
PIANOby Stanley Plumly
Hear Stanley Plumly read this poem (in RealAudio).
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Also by Stanley Plumly:
The Marriage in the Trees (1996)
An Audible Anthology
It must have been Lisa's voice
since Piano was waiting when we got there,
the bay doors barely open and her white
face running the bars along her stall.
Then Lisa brought her out into the hall
to brush her down in order to show
the wood sheen under the dust and how
the tension of the body, if she stood
still long enough, could make her look
like she was floating standing. And given
time, in the broken bird light falling
from the loft, she seemed to float,
nodding and letting her neck, a third
of all of her, bend to the floor,
where she swept, with little breaths,
each loose and useless piece until
she found the somewhere solid that
she wanted, striking the heavy air
to let us know, marking the place
to tell us, in a second, she could fly.
Her body had already started to shine,
but it was her blaze that gave her eyes
their depth against the touch and Lisa's soft talk.
And it was the eyes that sometimes flared
against the words. Lisa said she was wild
because she was young. And bored, too,
when she couldn't get out, yet never bored
the way some horses dance from side to side,
spelling their weight, pressing their radiant,
stalled foreheads into the walls, or the way
some horses disappear inside, having
drawn and redrawn circles. The barn was
full of the noise and silences of horses.
And filled with Lisa's voice in counter-
point: and Lisa's horse's stillnesses --
like love or what love's moment's stillness
really is, hands-high, and restless.
Stanley Plumly is a Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland at College Park. His most recent book of poems is The Marriage in the Trees (1997).
Copyright © 1999 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; April 1999; Piano; Volume 283, No. 4; page 72.