A black-and-white photo of a man in a plaid suit holding up a record, his face obscured
Weegee / International Center of Photography / Getty

Late-Night Classical Radio Host

A poem for Sunday

The first thing you need is a voice.
One someone can fall asleep to.
Can sleep through. Words
twinkling in faint starbursts
of static. Your timbre must sotto
the way a library book smells
like the mausoleum of Erato.
You must bring a thermos—
an old metal one, dinged.
Fill it with quote-unquote
coffee but drink
slowly. Before 3, you’ll have to
say Saint-Saens without slurring.
Oh, and you’ll need to know Italian,
of course. Or, at least, how to pronounce
it—those hard c’s in concerti.
When you arrive, take off winter
and hang it on the hook
by the door. Your wool
socks on the ancient green
carpet will remind you of a long-ago
dream in which you were an army
of one marching across Elysia.
The studio’s wood paneling
will one day give you a splinter
you’ll suck out during
the flute menuet of Bizet’s
“L’Arlésienne Suite No. 2.”
You’ll get used to the schedule
of sleeping through the day,
only to wake as the the sun sets
like a bald man’s head
under a hat. You’ll prepare for your shift
by stuffing cotton balls
in your mouth and saying catgut lute
five times fast.
You’ll do this because you know
there are only a few
who’ll listen to you.
And this, you think,
is good practice
for the afterlife.