Alfred Kreymborg

If you stand where I stand--
In my boudoir--
(don't mind my shaving--
I can't afford a barber)--
you can see into her boudoir--
you can see milady--
her back, her green smock, the bench she loves--
her hair always down in the morning--
(the sun conspiring with the curtains?)--
reddish brown,
with ringlets at the tips--
the hairdresser called this A.M.--
him I have to, I want to afford.
Unhappily, you can't see her face--
only the back of her small round head--
and a glint of her ears, two glints--
but her hands, alas, not her hands, though
unhappily, you can hear them.
It isn't a clavichord--
only a satinwood square--
bought cheap at an auction--
but it might be, you'd think it,
a clavichord, bequeathed by the past--
it sounds quite like feathers.
Bach? Yes, who else could that be--
whom else would you have in the morning--
with the sun and milady?
Grave? Yes, but so is the sun--
not always? No, but please don't ponder--
listen, hear the theme--
hear it dig into the earth of harmonies.
A dissonance? No, 'twas only a stone--
which powders into particles with the rest.
Now follow the theme--
down, down, into the soil--
calling, evoking the spirit of birth--
you hear those new tones--
that sprinkle, that burst--
roulade and arpeggio?
Gently now, firmly--
with solemn persuasion--
hiding a whimsic raillery--
(does a dead king raise his forefinger?)--
though they would, though they might--
no phrase can escape--
the theme, the theme rules.
Unhappy? Nay, nay--
they ought to be happy--
each is because of, in spite of, the other--
that is democracy.
He can't spare a particle--
that priest of the morning sun--
A mistake? Yes indeed, but--
all the more human--
would you have her drum like a schoolmaster--
abdominable right note at the right time--
in the morning, so early--
or ever at all?
She'll play it again--
oh don't, please don't clap--
you'll disturb them!
Here, try my tobacco--
good, a deep pipeful, eh?--
an aromatic blend--
my other extravagance--
yes, I'll join you, but wait--
I must dry my face!

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