The Piano Lesson

            after Henri Matisse


Hope of the boy’s

hidden hands that they meet

at the final triangle’s

point, the key


The twice-painted women

are strung silent.

The boy sits in air’s

clear fire between

wrought music stand,

wrought railing. The scene

orients around

the unseen bodiless

dancer the women

are bodies of.


The wrought railing

strains for the world

of green the world

of time – in this house

sheer cliffs, the window’s

slice of green a slice

of time, a sharp absent

point on the burnt piano-top

where the metronome mocks

the candle, taps

its own candlelife out

in unlovely coughs

as the candle lost

in its shining locks

is too much song,

is not hope


The two mothers guard

the depthless walls

of the past he purges

now in song:

with the rest

of the brightened dead

they inhabit hope –


And now his fierce eye

confounds its shape

in a shadow honing

into evening,

narrowing, lengthening

into nothing


Must I misshape time?

To another canyon,

another imagined point?

O say the boy’s hands,

strong with gathered gaze,

meet that backwards eye